Kafka's papers to see the light of day?

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Scholars of the 20th-century writer Franz Kafka were in a state of suspense last night at the news that the remains of his estate, which have been hoarded in a Tel Aviv flat for decades, may soon be revealed.

Previously unseen documents, postcards, sketches and personal belongings of the Czech-Jewish writer, who wrote in German, have been gathering dust in the home of Esther Hoffe, the former secretary of Kafka's friend and executor Max Brod since his death in 1968. Hoffe's refusal to relinquish the documents led to a literary game of cat and mouse between her and the state of Israel, under pressure from the country's cultural elite, which on one occasion even led to her arrest on suspicion of smuggling Kafka's writings out of the country.

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