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Monatshefte

Volume 103, Number 3, Fall 2011 Table of Contents

Special Issue: Kafkas Spätstil / Kafka’s Late Style
Gastherausgeber / Guest Editors: Stanley Corngold and Michael Jennings

Pavel Schmidt
f.k.

Stanley Corngold
Introduction

Articles

John Zilcosky
Kafka’s Poetics of Indeterminacy: On Trauma, Hysteria, and Simulation at the Fin de Siècle
Abstract:
Although readers have related many biographical factors to Kafka’s writing, none has noticed the importance of his long-standing interest in the deleterious effect of modernization on people. Beginning with the train-transported characters of his early writing and moving to the nervously symptomatic bodies of his later work, I argue that we must understand Kafka’s well-known poetics of indeterminacy within this framework. I analyze Kafka’s writings as an accident-insurance clerk, where he sometimes handled cases of “traumatic neurosis” and “hysteria,” together with his short fiction in order to understand how his aesthetics developed in concert with contemporary medical-legal theories. Kafka’s “literary” suspicion of these theories emerged especially in his later years, when his characters showed hysterical symptoms fully decapitated from apparent causes at the same time that he “despaired” of language’s inability to refer to anything beyond itself. The relation of these “simulating” characters to Kafka’s famous anti-mimetic poetic skepticism gives his writing a surprising social-political significance. In both form and content, it outlines the inability to represent in a medical-legal context that demands nothing less. (JZ)

 

Thomas Wegmann
The Human as Resident Animal: Kafka’s Der Bau in the Context of His Later Notebooks and Letters
Abstract:
Kafka first read Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety in 1922. One can read Kierkegaard’s text as a central element in the poetology of “Der Bau,” which reenacts the relationship between construction, habitation, and thinking against a background of anxiety. “Der Bau” in fact reveals the practice of habitation as a reflection of a state of anxiety. This is the paradox of Kafka’s story: habitation is something that cannot be thought; the more one attempts to ponder the subject, the less one can actually reside. Kafka, as author, is shown to be no more master of his writing than the animal builder is master of his burrow. Creation in this sense is not ruled by the classic opposition of subject and object: the author does not govern his writing but is transformed into what he writes. And this is precisely what Der Bau demonstrates in extenso. Telling about the burrow means postponing the finality of the burrow as well as that of its safety-anxiety-complex. What Kafka cultivated in his late writings is the dystopia of an eternal writing as an equivalent of living and as an alternative to the artistic finality, the rational concept, and the apparent wholeness of works and buildings. (TW)

 

Christiane Frey
Kafka’s Test
Abstract:
This essay offers a reading of Kafka’s long-ignored short narrative piece “Die Prüfung” (1920), uncovering the paradoxes of testing that the curious ending of the text exposes. Confronting the parable first with Brod’s Heidentum, Christentum, Judentum and second with one of the most widely discussed of Kafka’s parables, namely “Vor dem Gesetz,” the essay explores Kafka’s reconfigurations of the intricate relationship between grace and sin, calling and serving, the law and the examination. The essay concludes by showing how the pedagogical and psychological discourse of “testing” circa 1920 was concerned with an epistemic problematic that is very much in evidence in Kafka’s parable. (CF)

 

Ritchie Robertson
Myth vs. Enlightenment in Kafka’s Das Schloß
Abstract:
Das Schloß shows many of the features commonly considered characteristic of “later style,” such as a distance from conventional narrative methods, a reliance on enigmatic forms of expression, and a prominence given to symbolic objects such as the castle of the title. However, the kind of myth-criticism that flourished in North America from roughly the 1940s to the 1960s has not produced very convincing results when applied to this text. Myth is present in Das Schloß rather as the mythic consciousness possessed by the villagers but questioned by the aggressively rational K. The novel as a whole, however, is not a rationalistic attack on religion: rather, it shows the villagers engaging in a range of religious practices and acknowledges a lingering desire for transcendence which, however, has now to be satisfied within, not beyond, everyday life. (RR)

 

Christian Jany Schriftkerben // Kerfs of Writing. A Phenomenology of Kafka’s Stylus This essay investigates a specific notion and practice of writing that may explain and make sense of: a) certain graphic features of Kafka’s handwriting (Part 1); b) several “conceptual” remarks about his “intransitive” way of writing (Part 2); c) some narrative texts, most notably “Ein Traum” and the Hunter Gracchus fragments (Part 3). Considering the connection of these three elements, which intertwine in an exemplary way in Kafka, the essay proposes a new perspective on the aesthetics of Kafka’s “style”—namely, the practice of what will be described as “fetishistic inscription” and subsequently explored in its poetological relevance. The attempt to excavate a monument of identity, that is to say, and essential belonging-together of the threefold nexus, marks the phenomenological method of the investigation. Finally, the exemplary relationship between graphics and nations of selfhood in Kafka may enable us to glimpse a fundamental modality in which subjects relate to their script (Part 4). (CJ)

 

Malte Kleinwort Incidental and Preliminary—Features of the Late Kafka This article points toward a connection between two research areas conventionally separated from each other: on the one hand, an interest in the social problems and ideas with which Kafka was familiar in job at the Prague Workmen’s Accident Insurance Institute and, on the other hand, an interest in Kafka’s writing process. The world of Kafka’s late texts looks like one seen through the eyes of an insurance expert, shaped by flexible, only preliminary norms and calculations in which the behavior of a single individual is incidental and insignificant. A closer look at late manuscripts by Kafka demonstrates that he struggled hard against the merely preliminary character of his writing and experienced difficulties deciding what was merely incidental and what was significant in his own texts. The difficulties of the writing process are also difficulties that the figures in his texts have to deal with: hence, the incidental and the preliminary are seen here as features of Kafka’s late writing and writings. (MK)

 

Review Article

Sabine Wilke
Zwanzig Jahre Germanistik postkolonial

(Lubrich, Oliver, Das Schwinden der Differenz. Postkoloniale Poetiken. Alexander von Humboldt—Bram Stoker—Ernst Jünger—Jean Genet.—Hermes, Stefan, “Fahrten nach Südwest.” Die Kolonialkriege gegen die Herero und Nama in der deutschen Literatur (1904–2004).—Albrecht, Monika, “Europa ist nicht die Welt.” (Post)Kolonialismus in Literatur und Geschichte der westdeutschen Nachkriegszeit.—Lillge, Claudia und Anne-Rose Meyer, Hrsg., Interkulturelle Mahlzeiten. Kulinarische Begegnungen und Kommunikation in der Literatur.—Schmitz, Helmut, Hrsg., Von der nationalen zur internationalen Literatur. Transkulturelle deutschsprachige Literatur und Kultur im Zeitalter globaler Migration.—Struck, Wolfgang, Die Eroberung der Phantasie. Kolonialismus, Literatur und Film zwischen deutschem Kaiserreich und Weimarer Republik.)

Book Reviews

Berendes, Jochen, Ironie—Komik—Skepsis. Studien zum Werk Adalbert Stifters (Elisabeth Strowick)

Borsche, Tilman and Inigo Bocken, Hrsg., Kann das Denken malen? Philosophie und Malerei in der Renaissance (Thyra E. Knapp)

Brockmann, Stephen, A Critical History of German Film (Brad Prager)

Cousineau, Thomas J., Three-Part Inventions: The Novels of Thomas Bernhard (Jack Davis)

Davidson, John E. and Sabine Hake, eds., Framing the Fifties: Cinema in a Divided Germany (Rachel Palfreyman)

Gomes, Mario, Gedankenlesemaschinen. Modelle für eine Poetologie des Inneren Monologs (Monika Fludernik)

Heinz, Marion und Violetta Stolz, “Weitstrahlsinniges” Denken. Studien zu Johann Gottfried Herder (Wolfgang Düsing)

Kemper, Hans-Georg, Komische Lyrik—Lyrische Komik (Rüdiger Singer)

Kohlross, Christian, Die poetische Erkundung der wirklichen Welt. Literarische Epistemologie (1800–2000) (Rainer Godel)

Kramsch, Claire, The Multilingual Subject: What Foreign Language Learners Say About Their Experience and Why It Matters (Jeanne Schueller)

Kramsch, Claire, E.T.A. Hoffmann. Leben—Werk—Wirkung (Dominik Müller)

Müller, Harro, Gegengifte. Essays zur Theorie und Literatur der Moderne (Willi Goetschel)

Onana, Marie Biloa, Der Sklavenaufstand von Haiti. Ethnische Differenz und Humanitätsideale in der Literatur des 19. Jahrhunderts (Dirk Göttsche)

Pailer, Gaby, Andreas Böhn, and Stefan Horlacher, eds., Gender and Laughter: Comic Affirmation and Subversion in Traditional and Modern Media (Jill Twark)

Robinson, Douglas, Estrangement and the Somantics of Literature. Tolstoy, Shklovsky, Brecht (Max Statkiewicz)

Rogowski, Christian, ed., The Many Faces of Weimar Cinema: Rediscovering Germany’s Filmic Legacy (Marc Silberman)

Scholz, Susanne und Julika Griem, Hrsg., Medialisierungen des Unsichtbaren um 1900 (Ralf Simon)

Schönborn, Sibylle und Vera Viehöver, Hrsg., Gellert und die empfindsame Aufklärung. Vermittlungs-, Austausch- und Rezeptionsprozesse in Wissenschaft, Kunst und Kultur (Gerhard Sauder)

Strohmaier, Alexandra, Hrsg., Buchstabendelirien. Zur Literatur Friederike Mayröckers (Edith Anna Kunz)

Völker, Klaus, Kabarett der Komiker. Berlin 1924–1950 (Alan Lareau)

Zeller, Christoph, Der Ästhetik des Authentischen. Literatur und Kunst um 1970 (Monika Schmitz-Emans)