Kafkas „Josefine oder das Volk der Mäuse“: Das Kindlich-Mütterliche im Existenzkampf

Sylvain Guarda


The essay explores the significance of the childhood motif for the puzzling effacement of the female singer Josefine in “Josefine, the Singer, or the Folk of Mice.” A short analysis of the narrative “The Silence of the Sirens” serves as a framework to understand Josefine’s musicality and motherly instinct while highlighting Kafka’s unique understanding of the Odyssey myth. At the center of both narratives lies the notion of childhood for which Rousseau fervently pleaded and Kafka sadly yearned as an adult. The study shows that Josefine’s art performances create a trance-like space, a “dynamic stillness,” which allows the mice to catch a glimpse of their lost childhood as a heroic state beyond life and death. Josefine’s all-embracing motherly art subversively turns the enraptured folk of mice (the father figure) into a warm shapeless mass which signals a return to timelessness and death. Kafka’s short story is less “a hypnotic illusion” to sustain power, as contended by James Rolleston, than an attempt to triumph over transiency through ‘childlike’ art performances. (SG; in German)

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