Kafka: Foran Loven -  hypertekstualiseret af Elias Ole Tetens Lund

Walter Sokel: Kafka as a Jew

Sokel, Walter Herbert, 1917-
Kafka as a Jew
New Literary History - Volume 30, Number 4, Autumn 1999, pp. 837-853
The Johns Hopkins University Press

With a single exception, there are no overt references to Jews and Jewishness in Kafka's entire oeuvre. The conclusion one might draw from that is that Jewishness did not matter to him fundamentally, and at any rate had no import for his writing. But such a view would miss an essential dimension. We know from his biography, and his life documents - diaries, letters, reflections in aphoristic form - that, although he was indeed indifferent to it in his youth, Jewishness and Judaism began to matter very much to him from 1911 on, when Kafka was twenty-eight. From that time on, he began to be intensely occupied with Jewish history, Jewish tradition, Jewish lore, and Jewish culture -- an interest which was not only sustained but constantly grew until his death in 1924 at the age of forty. It is significant for his writing that Kafka's turn to Judaism preceded by less than one year what he called his breakthrough to the work of his maturity, to the kind of writing that established his posthumous fame and for which the adjective kafkaesque has been coined. As I shall try to show, there exists a connection between the peculiar nature of Kafka's mature writing and his discovery of what he considered to be authentic Judaism, which he regretted bitterly not having known until then. To do justice to the relationship between...