Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

It is often remarked that people tend to write about what they know or that they write out of their own neuroses, which may be two ways of saying the same thing. As one who has felt the lure of both tyranny and despair, I am grateful to the many people in this world, and to some who have departed...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-20

In his essay “Franz Kafka: Notes on the Tenth Anniversary of His Death,” Walter Benjamin tells us that Kafka “took all conceivable precautions against the interpretation of his writings.”1 Theodor Adorno declares “each sentence says ‘interpret me,’ and none will permit it.”2 Harold Bloom argues...

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1. The Tyranny of Simplicity and the Fantasy of Completion: Kafka’s “Letter to His Father” and Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams

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pp. 21-50

“Life is more than a . . . puzzle,” Kafka states near the end of his now- famous letter to his father, written in November of 1919.1 With a little patience and persistence, a puzzle can be pieced together and solved. Life, on the other hand, is more complex. There will always be something left over, something...

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2. The Power of Interpretation and the Interpretation of Power: Kafka’s “The Judgment” and Bourdieu’s Social Theory

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pp. 51-74

Kafka considered his short story “The Judgment” to be his major breakthrough. He wrote it during the night of September 22–23, 1912, from ten o’clock in the evening until six o’clock the next morning.1 In his diary, he noted that “only in this way can writing be done, only with such coherence, with...

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3. The Virtue of Hesitation and the Temptation of Resolution: Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” and Todorov’s Fantastic

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pp. 75-108

Thus far in the book I have explored, in the first chapter, the different modes of interpretation Kafka describes in his “Letter to His Father” and the fantasy of complete interpretation that tempts many of us, and, in the second chapter, the accumulation of different...

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4. The Ethics of Attention and the Meaning of Pain: Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” and Levinas’s “Useless Suffering”

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pp. 109-136

The first three chapters have highlighted the hermeneutical tyranny of the father or family; this chapter moves beyond the private walls of the home to a penal colony, from interpersonal authority to political and societal authority. Instead of facing the tyrannical father or family, the impotent subject faces a...

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A Concluding Note

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pp. 137-140

One of the most beautiful and moving passages in Kafka’s oeuvre identifies the gap between the world and our perception of it...

Notes

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pp. 141-156

Works Cited

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pp. 157-162

Index

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pp. 163-165