When Kafka Says We

When Kafka Says We

Uncommon Communities in German-Jewish Literature
Liska, Vivian
Distribution: World
Publication date: 06/08/2009
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-35308-5
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Taking as its starting point Franz Kafka's complex relationship to Jews and to communities in general, When Kafka Says We explores the ambivalent responses of major German-Jewish writers to self-enclosed social, religious, ethnic, and ideological groups. Vivian Liska shows that, for Kafka and others, this ambivalence inspired innovative modes of writing which, while unmasking the oppressive cohesion of communal groupings, also configured original and uncommon communities. Interlinked close readings of works by German-Jewish writers such as Kafka, Else Lasker-Schüler, Nelly Sachs, Paul Celan, Ilse Aichinger, and Robert Schindel illuminate the ways in which literature can subvert, extend, or reconfigure established visions of communities. Liska's rich and astute analysis uncovers provocative attitudes and insights on a subject of continuing controversy.

Author Bio

Vivian Liska is Professor of German Literature and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. She is author of The Night of the Hymns: Paul Celan's Poems, 1938–1944 (in German) and editor (with Thomas Nolden) of Contemporary Jewish Writing in Europe: A Guide (IUP, 2008).


I know of no book quite like Liska's in range, sophisticated analysis, and importance for the appreciation of modern German-Jewish literature in the wake of Kafka.Vivian Liska is remarkable for the precision of her readings. . . . She brings to her project a rich and varied sensibility—a mind at home in many languages and literatures and fields of thought.

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Uncommon Communities
Part 1. Kafka's Communities
1. When Kafka Says We
2. Shooting at the Audience: Kafka's Speech on the Yiddish Language
3. An Alliance of Foes: Kafka and the Feminine
Part 2. Revisiting the Common Ground
4. A Vision out of Sight: Theodor Herzl's Late "Philosophical Tales"
5. Diverting the Lineage: Biblical Women in Else Lasker-Schüler's Hebrew Ballads
6. Saving Confusions: Else Lasker-Schüler's Poetics of Redemption
Part 3. Communities of Fate
7. A Counter-Prayer: Paul Celan's "In Front of a Candle"
8. Roots against Heaven: A Motif in Paul Celan
9. The Voice of Israel: Nelly Sachs's "Choirs after Midnight"
Part 4. Contentious Commemorations
10. A Broken Ring: The Gruppe 47 and Ilse Aichinger's Poetics of Resistance
11. After the Silence: Holocaust Remembrance in Contemporary Austrian-Jewish Literature
12. Jewish Voices, Human Tone: Robert Menasse's The Expulsion from Hell
Part 5. Kafka's Companions
13. Of Language and Destiny: Paul Celan and Kafka
14. A Permanent Shadow: Ilse Aichinger and Kafka
15. The Gap between Hannah Arendt and Kafka