Brod, Max (1884–1968) By Sawicki, Nicholas
Max Brod was one of the most influential figures of the modernist literary scene in Prague, as well as its most important chronicler and promoter. Best remembered today for his role in preserving and editing the work of his close friend Franz Kafka, Brod was himself a writer of extraordinary breadth and output. Among the most prolific German-language critics and authors of the twentieth century, he published hundreds of essays and works of criticism over the course of his life, along with a range of other publications that included novels, biographies, memoirs and translations. Brod was a leading public intellectual in interwar Czechoslovakia and later in Israel, where he emigrated in 1939, and he also wrote extensively on Judaism and Zionism.
Brod grew up in an acculturated German-speaking Jewish household in Prague. He studied law at Prague University and there befriended Kafka, a fellow student. After earning his law degree in 1907, Brod went on to work in a series of administrative positions for the postal service, while at the same time fully devoting himself to writing. Through these efforts he became close to other Jewish Prague writers of the same generation, including Kafka, Oskar Baum, Felix Weltsch, and Franz Werfel. Brod would later term this group of friends the ‘Prague Circle’ in his eponymous memoir Der Prager Kreis (1966), and he was instrumental in promoting them as emerging modernist authors.