Kafka's The Castle and the Critical Imagination

Kafka's The Castle and the Critical Imagination

Stephen D. Dowden

Survey of the criticism devoted to Kafka's The Castle, his final novel.
Kafka's final, unfinished novel, The Castle, remains one of the most celebrated yet most impenetrable masterpieces of modernist fiction, and a focus of literary criticsm and theory. In this chronological survey of the critical attention it has attracted, both academic and non-academic, Professor Dowden emphasises the acts of critical imagination which have shaped our image and understanding of Kafka and the novel. He explores the historical and cultural milieus of criticism, from the Weimar Era of Max Brod and Walter Benjamin to Lionel Trilling's Cold War to postmodern multiculturalism and 'cultural studies', showing how and why The Castle has aroused strong opinions in each generation of criticism; he also accounts for those moments in which the novel escapes from an historically anchored understanding into the realm of the universal.


"[Dowden's] accessibly and forcefully written book (enlivened by words like 'hornswoggle' and 'boondoggle') is more than a Forschungsbericht: it is also a judicious, stimulating, and original contributions to the understanding of Kafka as well as Kafka's critics." AUSTRIAN STUDIES

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