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Borges and KafkaSons and Writers$
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Sarah Roger

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746157

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746157.001.0001

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Reading, Translating, and Writing about Kafka

Reading, Translating, and Writing about Kafka

(p.34) 3 Reading, Translating, and Writing about Kafka
Borges and Kafka

Sarah Roger

Oxford University Press

Over the course of his life, Borges read all three of Kafka’s novels, more than half of Kafka’s stories, Kafka’s published fragments, and some of his notebooks. Borges published eighteen translations of works by Kafka, and he mentioned Kafka in fifty-six of his non-fictional texts. In these texts, Borges identified echoes of Kafka’s biography—particularly his relationship with his father—as a key feature of Kafka’s writing. For Borges, Kafka’s overarching theme was the ‘patria potestad’: a term he used to refer to the nested relationships of the son and his father, the citizen and the state, and the individual and God. Borges believed that Kafka’s stories could be read as both nightmares and parables. They were built on concepts such as subordination and infinity, and recalled (for Borges) Zeno’s paradoxes and the Book of Job.

Keywords:   Borges, father–son relationship, infinity, Job, Kafka, nightmare, parable, subordination, translation, Zeno’s paradoxes

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