JERUSALEM – It seems almost Kafkaesque: Ten safe-deposit boxes of never-published writings by Franz Kafka, their exact contents unknown, are trapped in courts and bureaucracy, much like one of the nightmarish visions created by the author himself.

The papers, retrieved from bank vaults where they have sat untouched and unread for decades, could shed new light on one of literature’s darkest figures.

In the past week, the pages have been pulled from safe-deposit boxes in Tel Aviv and Zurich, Switzerland, on the order of an Israeli court over the objections of two elderly women who claim to have inherited them from their mother.

“Kafka could easily have written a story like this, where you try to do something and it all goes wrong and everything remains unresolved,” said Sara Loeb, an author of two books about the writer. “It’s really a case of life imitating art.”

Literary experts in both cities are sifting through the boxes, and the contents are expected to be of priceless literary and monetary value. What exactly is there remains unknown, but the papers include handwritten manuscripts, letters and various literary works by the famed Jewish writer, said Meir Heller, an attorney for the Israeli National Library, which also claims ownership of the trove.

Loeb says the cache could include endings to some of Kafka’s major works, many of which remained unfinished in his lifetime.

Kafka, a Prague native who wrote in German, was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, known for his surreal tales of everyman protagonists crushed by mysterious authorities or twisted by unknown shames.

The newly emerged writings won’t see the light of day until the Israeli court unravels the tangled question of the collection’s rightful owner.