"At the farthest pole from man": Kafka's Posthuman Outlook on War

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Author: Ribo Ignasi
Date: Fall 2020
From: Journal of Modern Literature(Vol. 44, Issue 1)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 8,369 words
Lexile Measure: 1380L

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Abstract :

Franz Kafka's diaries and letters are key to understanding how the outbreak of the First World War influenced his literary work. From these biographical sources, it is clear that Kafka wrote the short story "In the Penal Colony" (1914) as a response to the inhumanity of the war. At the same time, however, while his outlook on the war emerges in the context of the critique of modern instrumental reason and technological civilization since Romanticism, Kafka does not follow the most common patterns of critical humanism found, for example, in the works of Sigmund Freud, Karl Kraus, or Theodor W. Adorno. On the contrary, "In the Penal Colony" marks Kafka's escape into a form of posthuman writing, which traverses and undermines the borders between culture and nature, the human and the nonhuman. Keywords: Franz Kafka / war / technology / civilization / posthumanism

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A647745224