Kafka studies now proliferate at a rate inversely proportional to that of Kafka’s own production: according to a recent estimate, a new book on his work has been published every 10 days for the past 14 years.That's over 36 books per year, plus however many articles (and dissertations?), if it's true. And according to the article, Kafka published under 450 pages during his lifetime.
It's a luxury in the academic world that we can choose what we work on to a remarkable extent and we can get rewarded for a remarkable range of things. Kafka's one of my favorite authors, I guess, but I cannot quite understand how there's any call for this much published research on the relatively few works he published.
So many cool topics have not been touched or haven't been touched with current tools and methods, that it's mind-boggling. The number of languages and dialects that haven't been described, the number of basic historical situations we don't understand, and so on, all call out for research. Surely it's the same in literary studies. Or even practically: If you're figuring where you can make a real contribution, are the odds better with throwing another tome on that heap of Kafka studies or with staking out some new territory? Looking through some entries returned for 'Kafka' on GoogleBooks, much of what's there looks monotonous to me — I was expecting more exotic stuff.
But the bigger question is how many published books we actually need … shouldn't this stuff just be posted somewhere instead of printed on paper? I mean, come on, the Franz Kafka Blog doesn't even seem to be active. (Somebody will doubtless weigh in with more exciting electronic outlets on the topic ... .)