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Kafka's The TrialPhilosophical Perspectives$
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Espen Hammer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190461454

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190461454.001.0001

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Kafka’s Inverse Theology

Kafka’s Inverse Theology

(p.23) Chapter 1 Kafka’s Inverse Theology
Kafka's The Trial

Peter E. Gordon

Oxford University Press

This essay examines Kafka’s novel, The Trial, in light of the interpretive controversy as to whether it contains any religious meaning. Drawing upon Theodor W. Adorno’s notion of an “inverse theology,” the essay sets forth a challenge to the theological interpretation of Kafka’s work most often associated with critics such as Max Brod and Gershom Scholem. The essay argues instead that the distinctive pathos of hopelessness in Kakfa’s novel derives from the way it evacuates religious metaphors and images of their redemptive content.

Keywords:   Kafka, The Trial, Adorno, Scholem, negative theology, inverse theology, Brod

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