Cover

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Title, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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p. vii

Abbreviations

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p. ix

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Introduction

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pp. 3-16

This book shows that many of Kafka’s major works engage in a coherent, sustained meditation on racial blackness and in several instances metaphorically portray bodily transformation from white European into what Kafka refers to as the “Negro”— a term that he used in English. Kafka’s thinking of racial blackness is integral to his work in terms of thematic progression and aesthetic form. Indeed, this book demonstrate...

Part I

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Chapter 1. Becoming Negro

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pp. 19-36

Kafka himself asserted that “Das Urteil” marked the Durchbruch in his art. As Stanley Corngold has shown, Kafka’s breakthrough story is also at the same time a sexual maturation, in that writing for Kafka is a form of sex, and it is with “Das Urteil” that he learned to do it right (Corngold 2000, 136).1 “Das Urteil” also marks the moment in which the erotics and exotics of writ- ing clearly trump those of normative sexual partnership. As...

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Chapter 2. Being Negro

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pp. 37-54

Karl Roßmann comes to America because he has had premarital sex that led to the family maid’s pregnancy. He, too, is guilty of a sex crime and is sent into exile. Considering that Kafka started work on Der Verschollene shortly after writing “Das Urteil,” one could view Karl’s journey as the continuation of Georg’s story. Be that as it may, Americ...

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Chapter 3. Beyond Negro

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pp. 55-74

As mentioned above, Kafka broke off writing Der Verschollene in order to begin work on Die Verwandlung. When it appeared in print in 1915, Kafka insisted that the cover of Die Verwandlung not show Gregor Samsa.1 Much like Karl Roßmann’s Negro, the “creature” that Gregor had become was to remain visually enigmatic. Complicit with this wish, the ways in which the novella describe him leave much distorted ...

Part II

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Chapter 4. Negro’s Machine

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pp. 77-92

In Gregor’s transformation into a being in flight, race plays a pivotal role. The trope of flight connects Kafka’s Söhne trilogy (“Der Heizer,” “Das Urteil,” and Die Verwandlung) and the planned Strafen stories (“Das Urteil” and Die Verwandlung), which might also include Der Verschollene as represented by “Der Heizer”; for Kafka felt that the two stories shared an affinity to such an extent that “wenn die beiden Elemente— am au...

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Chapter 5. Negro’s Manumission

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pp. 93-112

Another journal entry, of January 7, 1912, locates the inscrutability of Negro noise as something close to home for Kafka: Als ich auf dem Kanapee lag und in beiden Zimmern mir zur Seite laut gesprochen wurde, links nur von Frauen, rechts mehr von M ä nnern, hatte ich den Eindruck, daß es rohe, negerhafte, nicht zu bes ä nfti- gende Wesen sind, die nicht wissen, was sie...

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Chapter 6. Negro’s Martyrdom

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pp. 113-130

In a fragment from “Oktavheft G,” 1917, Kafka dramatizes something like what the manumission and return of Rotpeter to Africa would look like in the figure of an ex- Ausstellungsneger : “Der Neger, der von der Weltausstellung nach Hause gebracht wird, und, irrsinnig geworden von Heimweh, mitten in seinem Dorf unter dem Wehklagen des Stammes mit ernstestem Gesicht als Überlieferung und Pflicht die Sp ä ße aufführt,...

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Conclusion

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pp. 131-136

While describing his oppression at the table due to his father’s strict rules and, hypocritically, unseemly eating habits, Kafka paints a picture of the three worlds that became his reality as an effect of Hermann Kafka’s dominant personality: Dadurch wurde die Welt für mich in drei Teile geteilt, in einen, wo ich, der Sklave, lebte, unter Gesetzen, die nur für mich erfunden waren und denen ich überdies, ich wußte nicht warum, niemals völ- lig entsprechen konnte, dann in ein...

Notes

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pp. 137-152

Bibliography

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pp. 153-168

Index

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pp. 169-172