Alan Saunders: Franz Kafka composer of The test, where a person is unjustly accused and attempted and Metamorphosis which a man becomes a giant insect, is probably the modernist writer most often discussed by philosophers. From Benjamin and Adorno to Blanchot, Derrida and Deleuze to say are just some of the essential prominent philosophers, Kafka happens to be the subject of many essays and publications. What has been so alluring about Kafka that philosophers have a compulsion to go back to his writings? Really recently a seminar on University of Western Sydney called ‘Kafka and Philosophy’, tried to respond to this question. And we’ll try it out recently from the Philosopher’s Zone. I’m Alan Saunders and my visitor is just one of the performers for the tv show, Henry Sussman, checking out teacher in German language and literary works at Yale University and something of the world’s great Kafka scholars. Henry, thank you for visiting The Philosopher’s Zone.
Henry Sussman: It’s a great honour becoming here.
Alan Saunders: Maybe we may start by simply situating Kafka as an author. Can we state where he comes from or was he an entire one-off?
Henry Sussman: He was element of a tiny Jewish minority in Prague which was itself a fragment of a somewhat bigger German-speaking population in the Habsburg Empire so he originated from a minority within a minority. He had been a prodigy as students. He studied legislation after doing gym and after that led significantly of a double life. He worked as the state in both condition and personal insurers, mainly associated with employees payment by day. And also by night he created a few of the most revolutionary and prophetic works of modernism and even postmodernism.
Alan Saunders: And in which did these works originate from? After all performed he have impacts?
Henry Sussman: His impacts are very interesting. In certain means much more at the universal degree of world literary works compared to the neighborhood amount of German letters. Although Heinrich von Kleist ended up being demonstrably a significant impact from German letters but Kafka in a way looked over the planet from a diverse perspective of globe civilisations and then the Bible ended up being extremely important to him and classics such as Robinson Crusoe and Alice-in-Wonderland.
Alan Saunders: Alice-in-Wonderland is interesting since it’s a 19th century book however the great Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges has written a write-up about Kafka’s impact on Lewis Carroll.
Henry Sussman: That’s right. Kafka produces the type of virtual comments cycle where the present and also the future have actually just as much an influence from the past as the other way around.
Alan Saunders: We think about him as a fairly grim figure but we gather that he often laughed aloud whenever writing. Will there be a significant comic element in his work?
Henry Sussman: very strong; extremely ironic, really poking fun at official establishments as well as the discourse of official organizations as soon as he read as a new man…when he read their works such as the growing manuscript associated with test to their friends, it was amid raucous laughter.
Alan Saunders: You stated which he had a background in legislation. Performed he have kind of philosophical background himself?
Henry Sussman: I’m sure that that was part of their gymnasium studies. He went along to the elite German-speaking gym in Prague and obtained a first-class knowledge.
Alan Saunders: And why have so many philosophers already been therefore thinking about him?
Henry Sussman: using one amount he stages the direct encounter amongst the modern-day subject and superior domains of law and discourse as demarcated inside distinction amongst the empirical and also the transcendental in Kant. However in a rather contemporary framework what would ordinarily reside in the stately ordered domain regarding the transcendental is totally arbitrary, self-contradictory, destructive; they are precisely the encounters that their significant literary protagonists when you look at the test, Josef K and in The Castle, today only abbreviated to K, the page K. They are the kinds of activities these numbers have with the establishments of purchase and law.