Franz Kafka as a Jewish and Religious Writer
Speaker : Dr John McDade (Lecturer in Theology at St Mary’s University)
Date and Time : Wednesday 17th January : 11.00 – 3.15 (Tea / Coffee from 10.30)
Suggested Donation : £15
Please bring a Packed Lunch
Franz Kafka is recognised as one of the great writers of the 20th century: born in Prague to a Jewish family, Kafka was not conventionally religious but evoked in his fiction to a religious world dominated by Law and Judgement, the theme of the inaccessibility of the divine and the strangeness of Biblical narratives. Edwin Muir, who first translated Kafka into English, wrote: ‘The problem with which all Kafka’s work is concerned is a moral and spiritual one. It is a twofold problem: that of finding one’s true vocation, one’s true place, whatever it may be, in the community; and that of acting in accordance with the will of heavenly powers. But though it has those two aspects it was in his eyes a single problem; for a man’s true place in the community is finally determined not by secular, but by divine, law, and only when, by apparent chance or deliberate effort, a man finds himself in his divinely appointed place, can he live as he should.’
We will look particularly at some short pieces by Kafka in his Collected Stories: ‘Before the Law’ (also used in The Trial), ‘The City Coat of Arms,’ ‘A Knock at the Manor Gate’, ‘On the Tram’. Reference will also be made to The Trial, Metamorphosis and In the Penal Colony. This may be a good opportunity to consider Kafka as a Jewish and implicitly religious writer whose fictional world can speak about our constant difficulties of connecting with the divine.