Franz Kafka in Context

23rd January 2018

News, Student news, Alumni news

Redressing the perception of Kafka as an isolated loner, Franz Kafka in Context, a new book by Wadham Fellow Carolin Duttlinger, places Kafka and his work in political, social and aesthetic context.

  • Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka (1883–1924) lived through one of the most turbulent periods in modern history, witnessing a world war, the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire and the foundation of the new nation state of Czechoslovakia.

But the early twentieth century was also a time of social progress and aesthetic experimentation. Kafka's novels and short stories reflect their author's keen but critical engagement with the big questions of his time.

Commenting on the book, Carolin said: “For me this was an opportunity to give Kafka studies a new direction, enriching readers’ understanding of his texts by highlighting Kafka’s interest in more unexpected and previously underexplored areas such as politics, dance, architecture, and recitation. This book brings together the work of some of the most respected academics writing about Kafka today; it makes fascinating reading for those interested in better understanding this complex man and his work.”

Franz Kafka in Context aims to redress this perception. In thirty-five short, accessible essays, leading international scholars explore Kafka's personal and working life, his reception of art and culture, his engagement with political and social issues, and his ongoing reception and influence. Essays include Kafka’s relation to Czech literature, modern culture, the role of Prague in the First World War, and friendship, illness and sexuality. Together they offer a nuanced and historically grounded image of a writer whose work continues to fascinate readers from all backgrounds.

Carolin Duttlinger is Associate Professor in German at the University of Oxford, a Fellow of Wadham College, and Co-Director of the Oxford Kafka Research Centre. An international expert on German modernism, she been awarded numerous prizes and fellowships, including the Zvi-Meitar/Vice-Chancellor Oxford University Research Prize in the Humanities. She is the author of Kafka and Photography (2007) and The Cambridge Introduction to Franz Kafka (Cambridge, 2013), the co-editor of Walter Benjamins anthropologisches Denken (2012) and the editor of Franz Kafkas 'Betrachtung': Neue Lektüren (2014). She regularly writes about Kafka and other authors for the Times Literary Supplement.