Franz Kafka is among the most significant 20th century voices to examine the absurdity and terror posed for the individual by what his contemporary Max Weber termed "the iron cage" of society. In this book, Mark E. Blum examines Kafka's three novels, Amerika, The Trial, and The Castle, in their exploration of how community is formed or eroded in the interpersonal relations of its protagonists. Critical literature has recognized Kafka's ability to narrate the gestural moment of alienation or communion. This "social discourse" was augmented, however, by a dimension virtually no commentator has recognized-Kafka's conversation with past and present authors. Kafka encoded authors and their texts representing every century of the evolution of modernism and its societal problems, from Bunyan and Defoe, through Pope and Lessing, to Fontane and Thomas Mann. The inter-textual conversation Kafka conducted can enable us to appreciate the profound human problem of realizing community within society.
Mark E. Blum is professor of History at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
Chapter 1: Kafka's Social Discourse as an Aesthetic Search for Community Chapter 2: Social Discourse and the Actualization of the Good Chapter 3:Amerika as an Anatomy of Social Discourse Chapter 4:The Trial as the Social Discourse of Self in a Community of Others Chapter 5:The Castle and the Social Discourse of Community Chapter 6 Chpater 6:The Castle as a Pastoral Narrative: "The Good," "The Beautiful," and the Human Community