Kafka Experts Will Have to Keep Waiting...

If it were any other writer, today's unfolding of events in an anonymous bank vault in Zurich would be described as Kafkaesque. But the latest twist in a legal battle over the estate of Franz Kafka probably deserves some other adjective.

Four deposit boxes were pried open. Inside were manuscripts, drawings and letters from the Czech writer that had been locked away for more than 50 years, as Kafka experts around the world waited with baited breath. But the expectant Kafka enthusiasts, historians and critics will have to wait longer, after two Israeli sisters who insist they own the papers by inheritance from their mother banned all reporting of the boxes' contents.

They were opened on the orders of Talia Koppelman, a judge from the Tel Aviv family court. Last week she also ordered the opening of six safety deposit boxes in Israeli banks containing other Kafka works.

Today's unlocking at Zurich's UBS bank of safes sealed since 1956 was attended by lawyers representing, on one side, Eve and Ruth Hoffe and the German literature archive, and, on the other, the state of Israel and its national library.

Update from Guardian UK and some background on the case .


It is bated breath, not baited breath. They did not have herring-breath, their breath was abated, as in paused. Sorry, this is a particular pet peeve of mine.

The correct spelling is actually bated breath but it’s so common these days to see it written as baited breath that there’s every chance that it will soon become the usual form, to the disgust of conservative speakers and the confusion of dictionary writers. Examples in newspapers and magazines are legion; this one appeared in the Daily Mirror on 12 April 2003: “She hasn’t responded yet but Michael is waiting with baited breath”.
It’s easy to mock, but there’s a real problem here. Bated and baited sound the same and we no longer use bated (let alone the verb to bate), outside this one set phrase, which has become an idiom. Confusion is almost inevitable. Bated here is a contraction of abated through loss of the unstressed first vowel (a process called aphesis); it means “reduced, lessened, lowered in force”. So bated breath refers to a state in which you almost stop breathing as a result of some strong emotion, such as terror or awe.

Source: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bai1.htm

Point: Get a life grammar nazi