Sunday, December 18, 2005

From behind 1.80

The case of Max Brod versus Franz Kafka has been closed for a good while, and the verdict passed in the late twenties of the past century is only vaguely remembered: a kind of acquittal on the grounds of a guilty verdict. A mediocre but highly productive writer and journalist had been stricken, as it were, with the friendship of a producer of completely incommensurable works -whose importance he recognized earlier than everyone else, but whose content he hardly understood, as his many attempts at interpretation demonstrate. Kafka must have taken diabolical pleasure in leaving his truly monstrous estate to his friend, on condition of having it destroyed after reading. But then something remarkable happened: the man who wrote novels entitled The Woman for Whom One Yearns, The Whoman Who Does Not Disappoint, or Living with a Goddess (and which read just like that) rose to the task, refused to follow the testamentary instructions and instead published in quick succession, The Trial, The Castle, and Missing, a fragment which Brod retitled Amerika - a title as justified as the German title was: Der Verschollene.
   Rolf Tiedemann, "Kafka Studies, The Culture Industry, 
And the Concept of Shame: Improper Remarks between
Moral Philosophy and Philosophy of History" in
Cultural Critique
60 (2005): 245.


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