Falling Motion, Endless Moment: Reading to the end of Kafka’s “Urteil”

Marcus Bullock


The way the father in Kafka’s “Das Urteil” has come to figure as a symbol illustrates the strange fate that overtakes central features of a literary work when symptomatic readings neglect the development of such motifs within the integrity of a narrative. Reading a literary work by fragmenting it and interpreting each motif outside its situation and function in the body of the text, but instead according to the authority of an extraneous system of symbolic equivalents, subordinates everything to the incompatible relationship between these authorities. The resulting rampant multiplication of incommensurable meanings inclines critics to give up on the legibility of the text itself, as Andreas Härter recently noted in his Monatshefte review essay on Kafka criticism. The theoretical justifications for dismembering and disfiguring the body of a work mainly stress how enjoyably emancipating it is to do so. This paper investigates how enjoyable it may be not to. (MB)

This article requires a subscription to view the full text. If you have a subscription you may use the login form below to view the article. Access to this article can also be purchased.

Purchase access

You may purchase access to this article. This will require you to create an account if you don't already have one.