Kafka: Gender, Class, and Race in the Letters and Fictions
Elizabeth Boa's new study of Kafka centres on gender. Her strikingly original insights show how, in an age of reactionary hysteria, Kafka rejected patriarchy yet exploited women as literary raw material. Drawing on Kafka's letters to his fiancee and to the Czech journalist, Milena Jesenska,Boa illuminates the transformation of details of everyday life into the strange yet uncannily familiar signs which are Kafka's stylistic hallmark. Kafka: Gender, Class and Race in the Letters and Fictions argues that gender cannot be isolated from other dimensions of identity. The study relates Kafka's alienating images of the male body and fascinated disgust of female sexuality to the body-culture of the early twentieth century and tointerfusing militaristic, racist, gender, and class ideologies. This is the context too for the stereotypes of the New Woman, the massive Matriarch, the lower-class seductress, and the assimilating Jew. The book explores Kafka's exploitation yet subversion of such stereotypes through the brilliantliterary devices which assure his place in the modernist canon.
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