The Boundaries of Fiction in the Literature of Franz Kafka

By Sara Teresa Shafer.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Salman Rushdie notes in his essay “In God We Trust,” a new
genre of literature which allows “the miraculous and the
mundane” to coexist is needed; this is especially true for
Kafka’s writings. Often placed under the rubric of “magical
realism,” Kafka’s writing occupies a narrative space that
simultaneously encompasses the prosaic and phenomenal;
“magic,” however, is misleading when applied to Kafka’s
work. I thus propose to describe a new literary model as a
base of interpretation for the works of Kafka and authors
like him. The crux of this new model is Kafka’s own
methodology. If method is how one touches reality, then
understanding Kafka’s method, which is demonstrated in both
his works of fiction as well as his diaries and letters, is
basic to appropriating and approaching his literature. Such
a model necessarily reconsiders history and its place next
to and within fiction. While there is no doubt that Kafka’s
literature is fiction, how Kafka processes history through
his fiction is another matter; understanding how Kafka’s
methodology allowed him to process history–both in the sense
of his own immediate experience as well as accounts of
events and personages past–will help construct a framework
in which his understanding and manner of processing and
composing fiction can be best understood and described. The
primary texts for this project are Kafka’s In the “Penal
Colony” and “On Parables.” Essays by Milan Kundera and
Salman Rushdie as well as biographical works on Kafka by Max
Brod and Klaus Wagenbach will also be used as support.

Keywords: Literature, Franz Kafka, History, Magic Realism

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 7, pp.73-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 750.750KB).

Sara Teresa Shafer

Student, Humanities, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

I am a student in the Humanities PhD program at the University of Louisville. I have completed a Bachelor of Arts in German at Marshall University and a Master of Arts in Humanities at the University of Louisville. I am currently working on my dissertation, the theme of which is the role of suffering and empathy in the works of Franz Kafka, an endeavor which encompasses the role of religion, history, literature and art in his ethos and literature. I am also attending the Making Sense of Suffering conference in Prague this November in which I will deliver a paper which considers Kafka’s parables on Abraham.


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