Myth vs. Enlightenment in Kafka’s Das Schloß

Stanley Corngold, Michael Jennings and Ritchie Robertson


Das Schloß shows many of the features commonly considered characteristic of “late style,” such as a distance from conventional narrative methods, a reliance on enigmatic forms of expression, and a prominence given to symbolic objects such as the castle of the title. However, the kind of myth-criticism that flourished in North America from roughly the 1940s to the 1960s has not produced very convincing results when applied to this text. Myth is present in Das Schloß rather as the mythic consciousness possessed by the villagers but questioned by the aggressively rational K. The novel as a whole, however, is not a rationalistic attack on religion: rather, it shows the villagers engaging in a range of religious practices and acknowledges a lingering desire for transcendence which, however, has now to be satisfied within, not beyond, everyday life. (RR)

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