Kafka and His Critics
For close to a century, the writings of Franz Kafka (1883-1924) have enticed, haunted and perplexed readers. This course examines Kafka's entire oeuvre, spanning his earliest short fiction to his posthumously published novels; we also read extensively from his diaries and letters. In conjunction with the primary literature, we draw on the critical reception of his work - from Max Brod, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and Hannah Arendt through Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Milan Kundera and others - as a means of understanding what Kafka has come to represent over time. Among the chief concerns addressed in the course are: the perils of literary fame; Kafka's social and political milieu of fin-de-siecle Prague; the role of religion, sexuality and language; the philosophical dimensions of his work and their bearing on other thinkers and writers; and the by now overused, often meaningless term 'Kafkaesque'.