Dr. Neil Allan studied English Literature and Philosophy at Durham University, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy and Literature at the University of Warwick. The author of several articles and papers, he lives in Stratford-upon-Avon and teaches philosophy.2005 0-7734-6050-0
This study explores a coalition of philosophy and literature in the work of Franz Kafka. The initial stage of this identification consists in a reading of Kafka’s output informed by an account of his study of the “descriptive psychology” of Franz Brentano and associated thinkers. This examination provokes a vision of his work as constituting a subversive exploitation of this early form of phenomenology. Moreover, the nature of this appropriation seems to be that which renders his writing so conducive to recent post-structuralist approaches.
The test hence moves on to an analysis and critique of the post-structuralist reception of Kafka, alighting upon thinkers such as Barthes, Blanchot, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari. The work of the latter two theorists intersects in surprising and suggestive ways with the reading of Kafka formulated with reference to his phenomenological studies. Connections between positions conventionally regarded as incompatible are thus forged.
Little attention has been paid to Kafka’s engagement with Brentano’s school, and the study is the first to relate its influence to more recent philosophical approaches, arguing that it is the paradoxical nature of Kafka’s response to early phenomenology that renders his work so amenable to post-structuralist interpretation. The analysis furnishes critiques of many literary-theoretical orthodoxies and a “genealogy” of twentieth-century European philosophy. It suggests new ways of reading Kafka and of staging the encounter between philosophy and literature. Ultimately, it aims to articulate philosophically the irreducible enigmas of Kafka’s world.