On Kafka’s Sit Down Comedy

Unlike many readers who take much of Franz Kafka’s fiction as tragic or dark (think, for instance, of “The Metamorphosis,” “The Penal Colony,” or The Trial), Philip Roth thought of Kafka as a “sit down comic.”   From Max Brod we learn that Kafka used to laugh when he read his work publically, and, of course, the […]

A New Essay for Berfrois: “Bewildered and Bewildering: Animal Life and Jewishness in James Joyce, Franz Kafka and Shalom Auslander”

This morning Berfrois published a piece I wrote entitled “Bewildered and Bewildering: Animal Life and Jewishness in James Joyce, Franz Kafka and Shalom Auslander” As one can see from the article it addresses “animal life” – a term borrowed from the philosopher GWF Hegel but used by Girogio Agamben and a tradition that threads its […]

“Is Franz Here?” Kafka’s Revision and Personalization of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav’s Schlemiel Narrative

Kafka read the Hasidic masters by way of Martin Buber’s translations. And of the Hasidic masters he read, Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav was, without a doubt, the most literary.   As Ruth Wisse and David Roskies point out, he made the Hasidic story (or parable) into something literary rather than something merely anecdotal.   To be sure, […]