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Franz Kafka

Narration, Rhetoric, and Reading

Edited by Jakob Lothe, Beatrice Sandberg, and Ronald Speirs

Publication Year: 2011

Franz Kafka: Narration, Rhetoric, and Reading presents essays by noted Kafka critics and by leading narratologists who explore Kafka’s original and innovative uses of narrative throughout his career. Collectively, these essays by Stanley Corngold, Anniken Greve, Gerhard Kurz, Jakob Lothe, J. Hillis Miller, Gerhard Neumann, James Phelan, Beatrice Sandberg, Ronald Speirs, and Benno Wagner examine a number of provocative questions that arise in narration and narratives in Kafka’s fiction. The arguments of the essays relate both to the peculiarities of Kafka’s story-telling and to general issues in narrative theory. They reflect, for example, the complexity of the issues surrounding the “somebody” doing the telling, the attitude of the narrator to what is told, the perceived purpose(s) of the telling, the implied or actual reader, the progression of events, and the progression of the telling. As the essays also demonstrate, Kafka’s narratives still present a considerable challenge to, as well as a great resource for, narrative theory and analysis.

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

Series: Theory and Interpretation of Narrative


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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p. vii-vii

The editors and contributors owe their collaboration on this volume to the Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) in Oslo, Norway. Two of the editors— Jakob Lothe and Beatrice Sandberg—were members of the Narrative Theory and Analysis research project, which was proposed and led by Jakob and hosted and funded by CAS during the 2005–2006 academic ...


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: Narration and Narratives in Kafka

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pp. 1-21

The essays in this volume examine a number of questions presented by narration and narratives in Kafka’s fiction. They originated as papers dis-cussed at a symposium in May 2006 that formed part of the research project Narrative Theory and Analysis directed by Jakob Lothe at the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo. The arguments (which have been ...

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1. Progression, Speed, and Judgment in “Das Urteil”

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pp. 22-39

This chapter seeks to open up some two-way traffic between Kafka the narrative artist and the rhetorical theory of narrative. More specifically, I seek to identify the narrative logic underlying what I take to be the irreducible strangeness of Kafka’s “Das Urteil” (“The Judgment”) and then to use the results to expand the explanatory power of rhetorical ...

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2. The Human Body and the Human Being in “Die Verwandlung”

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pp. 40-57

One of the great challenges when interpreting Kafka’s texts is to describe correctly the difficulties they pose for their reader. Another is to respond to these difficulties in a way that allows them to play a role in the texts’ rhetorical design and communicative effect. having discussed the prob-lems arising from relying on “allegorical equations of Kafka’s figures with ...

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3. “Lightning no longer flashes”

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pp. 58-80

Relations between the neighboring domains of literary scholarship and cultural studies have sometimes been less than cordial. In his speech of thanks for the Bavarian Grand Prize for Literature, for example, the eminent German literary critic Karl Heinz Bohrer (2005) fought to defend his “fatherland” (literary scholarship) against the barbaric nomads of ...

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The Abandoned Writing Desk

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pp. 81-93

Kafka’s writings focus particularly on something that he once called “den riskantesten Augenblick im Tag” (“the most risky moment of the day”).2 It is the focus of attention on the transition from sleep to waking, on the act of birth from the mother’s womb into the bosom of the family, and finally on the exit from the family and the entry into ...

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5. Therese’s Story in Der Verschollene

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pp. 94-107

This discussion of Der Verschollene (The Man Who Disappeared) begins by making some introductory observations on the narrative structure of Kafka’s uncompleted novel. I then proceed to analyze a particularly interesting example of embedded narrative, namely Therese’s story in chapter ...

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6. The Sense of an Un-ending

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pp. 108-122

The narratological presuppositions of The Castle are (1) that none of the characters have direct or verifiable access to the minds of other characters and (2) that the narrative voice is limited to partial access to the protagonist’s mind, without any direct access to the minds of other characters. The Castle’s narrative is governed by these presuppositions; they hold true

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7. Starting in the Middle? Complications of Narrative Beginnings and Progression in Kafka

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pp. 123-148

Reading Kafka in the critical and the facsimile editions deepens one’s sense of how much he struggled to create continuity and connected-ness (Zusammenhang) once he had started to write from a given begin-ning or to find the right point of ingress in order to follow a thread that would lead him through a story he wanted to tell. Whenever he found ...

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8. The Narrative Beginning of Kafka’s “In der Strafkolonie”

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pp. 149-169

The beginning of a narrative is closely related to its title, which in one sense is both its beginning and its ending. Since a narrative’s title is what we read first, it shapes our reading of the narrative beginning—and of the whole text. Moreover, once we have read the narrative and asked what it means, what its thematic significance is, we may discover that a ...

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9. Musical Indirections in Kafka’s “Forschungen eines Hundes”

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pp. 170-195

Constrained—and fascinated—by the narrative of Kafka’s “Forschungen eines Hundes” (“Researches of a Dog”), I will proceed by indirections, in the hope “by indirections [to] find directions out.” And so readers may be glad to see a précis of the argument in advance.1 As a young dog, the narrator is overwhelmed by the music accompanying

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10. The Dynamics of Narration in Betrachtung, “Das Urteil,”and Kafka’s Reflections on Writing

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pp. 196-231

Movement has always been a staple of storytelling, especially in narratives involving adventures, conquests, or banishments, pursuits or escapes, encounters or withdrawals, ascents or descents, finding or losing the way, or myriad combinations of such elements. It has also been associated with the experience and procedures of writing, as in the figure of Pegasus ...


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pp. 233-235


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pp. 237-251

E-ISBN-13: 9780814270776
E-ISBN-10: 0814270778
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814251775
Print-ISBN-10: 0814251773

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Theory and Interpretation of Narrative