Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraphs

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xvi

...Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Czech Lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This piling up of ethnic particulars right from the start should suggest something of the complexity of Kafka’s predicament as it is reflected in his stories, novels, and confessional...

Abbreviations for Kafka Citations

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pp. xvii-xx

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Introduction: Beginnings

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pp. 1-12

...made in cataloguing the stereotypes of Kafka’s social environment (sexual politics, family politics, ethnic politics, technics of script and the other media), the fundamental figures of his thought remain unsolved. After more than a half-century of investigation, one would think, there ought to be an answer to the...

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CHAPTER 1 In the Circle of “The Judgment”

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pp. 13-36

...and it thereafter became a permanent reference to the stations of his career—his breakthrough and his vindication. What remained crucial was the way the story was written: it came out of him like nothing he had written before, in “a complete opening out of the body and the soul” (D1 276). Only work written in this fashion...

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CHAPTER 2 The Trial: The Guilt of an Unredeemed Literary Promise

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pp. 37-44

...adding more words to the account, one might simplify it or lend it an energizing direction. “Kafka never missed an opportunity to accuse himself,” writes Detlef Kremer, “always quick to assume the position of the guilty party.” According to Kafka’s script...

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SEGUE I: On Cultural Immortality

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pp. 45-50

...writing or not writing; ecstasy; the risk of crossing over the limits of the human—all this involves choice and free activity. Kafka represents these longings and troubles as intelligible, as things about which he can make up his mind to pursue or to resist as dangerous. At the same time, however, he is a philosopher of constraint...

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CHAPTER 3 Medial Interferences in The Trial Or, res in Media

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pp. 51-66

...This sentence was written in 1973. Now, thirty years later—after guerilla theater; after the emergent claim that literary modernism is defined by its absorption of popular culture; above all, after the expansion of the electronic archive—this point about Kafka’s wide consciousness of the medial constraints...

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CHAPTER 4 Allotria and Excreta in “In the Penal Colony”

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pp. 67-80

...murderous writing machine. This transformation is an event in Kafka’s ongoing allegory of writing, a torture machine depicted as an intermedial translation device, converting the signs of one medium—written texts and embellishments—into the signs of another—the stabbed tattoo— a machine not in principle unlike...

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SEGUE II: Death and the Medium

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pp. 81-93

...him a maximum of enjoyment, an ecstasy that carried him to the limits of human experience. It happened in connection with his nocturnal writing. The most important of the early texts that tells of this bliss is the story assembled by Kafka’s editor Max Brod from Kafka’s...

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CHAPTER 5 Nietzsche, Kafka, and Literary Paternity

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pp. 94-110

...But if we leave out of this account the good Gnostic death—which Kafka did not die, as witness his deathbed concern with the textual body of Josephine the Singer—both kinds of death we have described involve a cultural reference. In the instance of the ecstasy of writing, the product of Kafka’s states is literary works meant to be published, to see others’ light of day...

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CHAPTER 6 Something to Do with the Truth Kafka‘s Later Stories

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pp. 111-125

...To employ Martin Greenberg’s useful distinction, many of these are “thought stories” rather than “dream stories”—stories that lack the seductive appeal, the ostensible fullness and closure of the image. Here, the reader must make do with the reflections of a narrator absorbed in exquisitely refined “research” and, as befits...

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CHAPTER 7 “A Faith Like a Guillotine” Kafka on Skepticism

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pp. 126-141

...own ineptitude for living it. The question now is whether Kafka was inclined to palliate his consciousness of failure by assuming a skeptical attitude. According to the historian William M. Johnston, “Kafka outdid Marcion by contending that any gospel of hope was merely another delusion invented by an inscrutable...

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CHAPTER 8 Kafka and the Dialect of Minor Literature

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pp. 142-157

...preceding chapters, is social and political. Both chapters deal with the categories of social being that are held to embed literature—linguistic capital and ecommodity capital, respectively. And both chapters conclude by subordinating the political, agonistic component...

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CHAPTER 9 Adorno‘s “Notes on Kafka” A Critical Reconstruction

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pp. 158-175

...a Marxian-Freudian story that tells of the collaboration of bourgeois commodity culture in its own extinction under fascism. Although Adorno pleads for a nonallegorical, a literal reading of Kafka’s stories, he in fact proceeds allusively, by fits and starts, to “mortify” the text to fit his fable. The outcome is that...

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CHAPTER 10 On Translation Mistakes, with Special Attention to Kafka in Amerika

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pp. 176-193

...what “the original” would be. If we do not read Kafka in the original manuscripts, would we still be reading him in the original? And would we be reading him in the original if we did not read them in his place and time? And can we even imagine what this place and time would be? What moment of his reading . . . or writing of them...

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CHAPTER 11 The Trouble with Cultural Studies

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pp. 194-204

...translations—including bad editions—and bad interpretations. There will be little profit in having purified texts of Kafka if the dominant optic through which they are read is that of so-called cultural studies, which reads the specificity of these texts through the generalities of political coercions and cultural stereotypes...

Notes

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pp. 205-252

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 253-254

...For their incisive, timely, and encouraging criticism, I am grateful to Mark Anderson, Russell Berman, and Mary Murrell. David Allen and Deborah Tegarden, my editors, brought to the manuscript their courtesy and precision. I cannot have done without the graceful companionship of Regine Corngold...

Index

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pp. 255-262