Incidental and Preliminary—Features of the Late Kafka

This article points towards a connection between two research areas conventionally separated from each other: on the one hand, an interest in the social problems and ideas with which Kafka was familiar in his job at the Prague Workmen’s Accident Insurance Institute and, on the other hand, an interest in Kafka’s writing process. The world of Kafka’s late texts looks like one seen through the eyes of an insurance expert, shaped by flexible, only preliminary norms and calculations in which the behavior of a single individual is incidental and insignificant. A closer look at late manuscripts by Kafka demonstrates that he struggled hard against the merely preliminary character of his writing and experienced difficulties deciding what was merely incidental and what was significant in his own texts. The difficulties of the writing process are also difficulties that the figures in his texts have to deal with: hence, the incidental and the preliminary are seen here as features of Kafka’s late writing and writings.