“Many shades of the departed” Where Kafka Returns to Haunt his Reception


Many shades of the departed are occupied solely in licking at the waves of the river of death because it flows from our direction and still has the salty taste of our seas. Then the river rears back in disgust, the current flows the opposite way and brings the dead drifting back into life. But they are happy, sing songs of thanksgiving, and stroke the indignant waters.

(Kafka, Blue Octavo Notebooks, 87)

It requires only a little leap of the imagination and no extensive academic investment in the textual drama concerned to note parallels between the critical industry dedicated to the study of Kafka’s authorship and the bureaucratic systems at work in The Trial and The Castle. Knowing the critical industry in question, these parallels cannot have escaped notice, but being a serious student of Kafka helps to fully personalize and develop the analogy.

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