Kafka’s Test
Abstract

This essay offers a reading of Kafka’s long-ignored short narrative piece “Die Prüfung” (1920), uncovering the paradoxes of testing that the curious ending of the text exposes. Confronting the parable first with Brod’s Heidentum, Christentum, Judentum and second with one of the most widely discussed of Kafka’s parables, namely “Vor dem Gesetz,” the essay explores Kafka’s reconfigurations of the intricate relationship between grace and sin, calling and serving, the law and the examination. The essay concludes by showing how the pedagogical and psychological discourse of “testing” circa 1920 was concerned with an epistemic problematic that is very much in evidence in Kafka’s parable.


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