Kafka and the Hermeneutics of Sadomasochism

Schaffner, Anna Katharina (2010) Kafka and the Hermeneutics of Sadomasochism. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 46 (3). pp. 334-350. ISSN 0015-8518. (doi:10.1093/fmls/cqq013) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Sadomasochist motifs permeate Kafka's oeuvre on various levels. Firstly, Kafka negotiates the politics of power and control thematically. Sadomasochist tropes serve as allegorical devices to articulate a key anxiety of the peripatetic modernist subject – social positions and interpersonal relationships have become endemically unstable. Whilst Kafka participates in a literary discourse which uses sexual perversions as allegorical vehicles, sadomasochistic patterns are also dramatised on the level of syntax: through a deliberate deconstruction of stable narrative positions, the reality status of events and their interpretations becomes uncertain. The reader is thus methodically destabilised by a subjection to the self-contradictory interpretative gestures of Kafka's equally analytically-confused protagonists. Finally, the promise of meaning and of allegorical resolutions, and at the same time their systematic withdrawal, lure the reader into an endless cycle of hermeneutic seduction and disappointment. The infinite postponement of interpretative gratification thus becomes a key device in a carefully choreographed textual sadomasochist dance.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/fmls/cqq013
Uncontrolled keywords: Kafka, Franz; sadism; masochism; sadomasochism; Freud, Sigmund; perversion; hermeneutics; Der Proceß; “Der Bau”; “In der Strafkolonie”
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Comparative Literature
Depositing User: Anna Katharina Schaffner
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2013 19:10 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 11:25 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/36602 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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