Who are some writers who are Kafkaesque

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The adjectivekafkaesk, named after the writer Franz Kafka, is an educational term that means something like "in the manner of Kafka's descriptions, mysteriously eerie, threatening".[1]

Origin and meaning of the word


The word was taken from English where Kafka-esque is first to be proven in 1939.[2] The oldest word formation of this kind to a writer is dantesquewhich is already documented in 1799.[3] For Kafka, the German adjective “kafkisch” is initially proven, which is said to have been coined at Kafka's funeral ceremonies and only gradually replaced by “kafkaesk”.[4] The Duden took kafkaesk in the 17th edition in 1973. The adjective was originally used internally to designate literary text features of Kafka and for similarities and imitations of his literary work. Later it was increasingly used for extra-literary issues and stood for “situations and diffuse experiences of fear, insecurity and alienation” as well as being at the mercy of anonymous and bureaucratic powers, absurdity, no way out and senselessness as well as guilt and inner despair. The term is derived from the general mood of numerous works by Franz Kafka, in which the protagonists act in opaque, threatening situations ranging from gloomy comedy to tragedy, but in today's usage it has only a distant connection with his works.[5] Hans Wellmann and Wolfgang Pöckl suspect that the word “kafkaesk” in German is supported by the phonetic similarity to the adjective “grotesque” with which it is associated.[6]

The Kafka biographer Reiner Stach said in an interview FAZ: “Most of the time people mean something absurd and at the same time scary, mostly it is about some kind of power relationship: If those who occupy the center of power remain in the dark, then you have the feeling that the situation is« Kafkaesque »[...]. The top of the pyramid is invisible in his novels, and in today's society - despite the apparent transparency - one does not know exactly what is going on at the highest levels. We don't know where the center of power is, we don't even know whether there is such a center at all. [...] One would like to know how things go up there, but at best you get to know the middlemen. It's just like in Kafkas Process.“[7]

Web links


Individual evidence


  1. Duden German universal dictionary. 6th, revised edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim / Leipzig / Vienna / Zurich 2007.
  2. Direction, 1939, No. 2-3, p. 21.
  3. ↑ August Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel: Athenaeum. Volume 2, 1st piece, Berlin 1799, p. 222.
  4. ↑ Wolfgang Pöckl: Kafkaesk, in: Gerd-Dieter Stein (Ed.): Kafka gleanings, Akademischer Verlag Stuttgart, Stuttgart 1988, p. 102.
  5. ↑ Thomas Anz: Franz Kafka. Life and work. Beck, Munich 2009, p. 14, ISBN 978-3-406-56273-0 (online here)
  6. ↑ Wolfgang Pöckl: Kafkaesk, in: Gerd-Dieter Stein (Ed.): Kafka gleanings, Akademischer Verlag Stuttgart, Stuttgart 1988, p. 106.
  7. ↑ Thomas David: In conversation: Reiner Stach: Was Kafka's life Kafkaesque?, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of June 29, 2008









Categories:Literary term | Franz Kafka as the namesake




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