Constructing China: Kafka's Orientalist Discourse

Constructing China: Kafka's Orientalist Discourse

Rolf J. Goebel

Kafka's interest in and use of China establish him as a principal commentator in Western discourse on the Orient.
Goebel studies four representative works by Kafka that explore the problems of the Western representation of the Orient: his 'Description of a Struggle'; several letters to Felice Bauer, offering an interpretation of Chinese poetry in connection with the conflict between writing and Kafka's love for Felice; the canonical story 'The Great Wall of China', parodically appropriating sterotypes of China's stagnant history and authoritarian emperors for a refutation of colonialist ideas of progress; and the sequel 'An Old Manuscript', dramatising China's invasion by foreign powers and the breakdown of crosscultural communication. Elucidating these themes from a broadly comparative perspective, Goebel shows Kafka to be one of German modernism's most intriguing and self-reflective writers on the Orient.
ROLF J. GOEBEL is Professor of German at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.


''An essential contribution dedicated to unearthing the references to political contexts hidden in Orientalist texts." INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF MODERNISM
Goebel's convincing analysis establishes Franz Kafka as one of modernism's most articulate and intriguing writers on the Orient. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW
Goebel's astute analyses [are] an essential contribution. His thought-provoking, exemplary study should inspire further investigations. SEMINAR 'With this well-documented study of Kafka's excursion into the mysteries ... of the Asian continent, Goebel has opened up a pathway for further exploration of an aspect of Kafka's work which will interest and enlighten readers.' GERMANIC NOTES AND REVIEWS ''A solid overview of other critics' analyses of Kafka's stereotypes of the Orient.'' AUSTRIAN HISTORY YEARBOOK

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