The Trials of Franz Kafka
The seminar examines three key moments in the life of Franz Kafka and the afterlife of his writing. The first concerns his reference to the traumatic, public breaking-off of his engagement to Felice Bauer as a "tribunal." The second focuses on the connection between this humiliating experience and the novel, The Trial, on which he began work less than a month later. The third involves the recent Israeli trial conducted to decide who owns Kafka's posthumous writings (including the manuscript of The Trial) which the author had asked his friend, Max Brod, to destroy after his death. Through an examination of letters, novels, literary criticism, and debates surrounding the Israeli proceedings, the course traces the theme of the trial through Kafka's writings, examining in the process the relationship between life and art, the literary and the legal.