The Warden of the Tomb is an expressionist play fragment by Kafka. Although incomplete, possibly extremely so, it's still decently long - about fourteen pages. Sadly (to me at least), as far as I can tell it has received little attention: basically the only writing in English I can find on it are a paper of Burç İdem Dinçel and a (medical!) paper of Mishara. Even in German there seems to be little written on it, with the only example I can find being a paper by Meinel (although since I can't read German it's quite possible I've missed many).

However, I'm not particularly familiar with the field so my "literature search" has been essentially limited to just googling, and I'm well aware that there could be lots of great sources on the topic which aren't so easy to find.

I'm interested in whether there are other sources at least partially focusing on Warden. To avoid asking for a list of references, I'll phrase my question as:

Is there "reasonably serious" secondary literature at least partially focusing on Warden other than the papers mentioned above? Failing that, where are places I might look for such literature?

I'm especially, although not exclusively, interested in sources in English (sadly, that's the only language I can read).

  • Incidentally, I can't comment on the quality of either of the linked papers, having not had time to read them. Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 18:37
  • Hi Noah, welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. I thought I was familiar with Kafka's work but I had never heard of Der Gruftwächter before reading your question. I think there are a few resources about that fragment. However, I would strongly recommend that you reword your question so it doesn't ask for a list of recommendations. That type of question is normally considered off-topic on our site. If you can make your question more specific, it should be OK.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 18:59
  • @Tsundoku Thanks for letting me know. Would asking whether such sources exist, or where to search for such sources, be better? (My experience is in other SE sites, so I'm not yet used to the standards of this one.) Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 19:02
  • Asking whether any secondary literature (besides the papers you listed) can be on topic, especially if you can show what sort of research you have done already. Asking how to find such resources should also be OK. But anything that sounds like "please give me a list of X" would get closed as off topic.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 19:11
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    Footnotes 39 and 40 have promising titles. Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


Below are a few references in English:

The footnotes to Katharina Meinel's article that Gareth Rees mentions in a comment contain references to articles in German (not in English); see Heinz Ide and Peter Cersowsky. It is somewhat easier to find German references than English ones:

Update: A Franz Kafka Encyclopedia by Richard T. Gray, Ruth V. Gross, Rolf J. Goebel and Clayton Koelb (2005) has an entry on Der Gruftwächter which ends with a short "Further Reading" section that lists the articles by Peter Cersowsky, Heinz Ide and Katharina Meinel that are already listed above. It does not list any secondary literature in English.

  • Thanks for the Zhao article! (The Dincel and Mishara papers are mentioned in my question.) Commented May 1, 2020 at 20:16
  • I noticed after rechecking your question after I posted my answer :-(
    – Tsundoku
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 20:17
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    Unfortunately the Zhao article is behind a paywall, but it looks quite interesting - hopefully I'll be able to get access to it at some point. Thanks again! (To others: I think the official site is here.) Commented May 1, 2020 at 20:20
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    I think that's right, but they don't seem to have the article (they have a "request full text" but IIRC that doesn't mean they actually have it?). Commented May 1, 2020 at 20:24
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    You're right; "request full text" means that it's not publicly available on the website and that you need to ask the author to provide it (a request they may ignore).
    – Tsundoku
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 20:47

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