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Kafka: Gender, Class, and Race in the Letters and Fictions$
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Elizabeth Boa

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198158196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198158196.001.0001

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Modernity and its Discontents Questions of Identity

Modernity and its Discontents Questions of Identity

Chapter:
(p.23) 2 Modernity and its Discontents Questions of Identity
Source:
Kafka: Gender, Class, and Race in the Letters and Fictions
Author(s):

Elizabeth Boa

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198158196.003.0002

This chapter provides an in-depth background to the style of Kafka's writing, stating that the turmoil-filled state of society in which he lived gave rise to many of the surreal social and cultural portrayals present in his work. The main catalyst for Kafka's work is his identity, or rather, the identity of his kind as a minority in a society which places too much importance on race, gender, and sexuality. In a society where much praise goes the quality of bloodline, Kafka found himself estranged from himself, his family, and the world around him. As a German-speaking person born to a well-off Jewish family, he was seen as not on a par with his pureblooded contemporaries, a crisis he shared with most of his kind during those days. He was, in essence, the basis of the reoccurring bachelor archetype present in many of his famous works; an entity in a world where to be emancipated is to be feral and inhuman, and in which social isolation only breeds a struggled attempt to placate an erotic longing, with writing the only medium for escape.

Keywords:   feminism, misogyny, post-structuralism, masculinity, erotic myth, sexuality, existentialism, human condition

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