Sir John Malcolm Sabine Pasley, 5th Baronet, FBA (5 April 1926 - 4 March 2004), commonly known as Malcolm Pasley, was a literary scholar best known for his dedication to and publication of the works of Franz Kafka.
Born in Rajkot, India, Pasley was educated at Sherborne. He was a direct descendant of Admiral Sir Thomas Pasley, 1st Baronet, who distinguished himself in the French Revolutionary Wars and was made a baronet in 1794.
1944-1946 he served in the Royal Navy.
Sir Malcolm Pasley was married in 1965 to Virginia Wait they had two sons:
Pasley wrote of many German authors, with his initial works on the German language, Nietzsche in particular, gaining him much fame. Pasley's work in this area was pioneering; his book Germany: A Companion to German Studies, first published in 1972, is still in heavy demand.
Pasley is best known for his work on the Kafka writings. He began studying Kafka in the early part of his career and was introduced to Marianne Steiner born Pollak, Kafka's niece and daughter of his sister Valli, by her son Michael, who was a student at Oxford. Through this friendship Pasley became the key adviser to Kafka's heirs. Pasley regarded Kafka as "a younger brother".
In 1956, Salman Schocken and Max Brod placed Kafka's works in a Swiss vault due to concerns surrounding unrest in the Middle East and the safety of the manuscripts, which were with Brod in Tel Aviv. After significant negotiation, Pasley took personal possession of Kafka's works that were in Brod's possession. In 1961, Pasley transported them by car from Switzerland to Oxford. Pasley reflected on the adventure as one that "made his own hair stand on end".
The papers, except The Trial, were deposited in Oxford's Bodleian Library. The Trial remained in the possession of Brod heiress Ilse Ester Hoffe, and in November 1988 the German Literary Archives at Marbach, Germany purchased the manuscript for £1.1 million in an auction conducted by Sotheby's.
At Oxford, Pasley headed a team of scholars (Gerhard Neumann, Jost Schillemeit, and Jürgen Born) that recompiled the text, removed Max Brod's edits and changes, and began publishing the works in 1982. This team restored the original German text to its full (and in some cases incomplete) state, with special attention paid to the unique Kafka punctuation, considered to be critical to his style.
Subsequent to the publication of the Kafka works, Pasley began receiving criticism about the completeness of their German publication. To that end, Stroemfeld Verlag has requested permission to scan the manuscripts to produce a facsimile edition and CD-ROM.
Aside from completeness, they cited a concern for the preservation of the works; some were written in pencil, and many were fading and crumbling.
Pasley refused their requests. He is joined by Marianne Steiner, who in 1998, told The Observer "I cannot forgive them for [the terrible things they had said about Pasley]. I do not want them to have anything to do with the manuscripts."
In April 1998, Stroemfeld published a facsimile version of The Trial. This manuscript, being owned by the German government, was accessible to them. In this publication the manuscript and transcription are listed side by side.