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Title: Between Life and Death: Reading the Body in Kafka's Shorter Fiction
Keywords: Kafka, corporeality, self and the other, mortality
Issue Date: 20-Aug-2010
Citation: WONG HONGYI (2010-08-20). Between Life and Death: Reading the Body in Kafka's Shorter Fiction. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: My paper seeks evidence to prove an intrinsic relationship between corporeality and Kafka?s oeuvre. I argue that many of Kafka?s narratives are in fact manifestations of his own bodily concerns and anxieties. I believe that most of these insecurities are linked to the ways in which Kafka thought about life, health, sexuality, selfhood and identity, and they reflect, most importantly, his fundamental struggle with death and mortality. More importantly, I see the body as a tool in Kafka?s fiction which helps to shape and propel the narratives forward while serving, at the same time, as a central theme in many of his stories. For this project, Kafka?s The Complete Short Stories will serve as my primary text. In addition, his autobiographical writings, including the ?Letter to His Father,? will also be examined. A number of the longer short stories in the book have been chosen for an extended reading, and the list is as follows: ?The Judgement,? ?A Hunger Artist,? ?In the Penal Colony,? ?The Metamorphosis,? ?Investigations of a Dog,? ?A Report to an Academy,? ?Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk,? and ?The Burrow.? I focus on the image of the artist in these narratives and trace from them a pattern of physical regression beginning from the human to the animal and finally to a nonentity. This trajectory of the devolving body of the Kafkan artist forms the backbone of my main discussion. At the same time, I will also be drawing on other shorter pieces in the book as and when they serve to lend clarity to my argument.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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