Values in Kafka: An East-West Perspective
in: Asian Cultural Studies III-A, 1992, 87-97
Ever since Nietzsche's proclamation of the death of God, the vacuum that followed in European culture has been deeply felt by many, particularly by artists and intellectuals who have struggled with the problem of how values and meaning in life can be found in a dramatically changed modern world. Some took up Nietzsche's appeal for a "transvaluation of values" and sought new values to replace outmoded traditional ones. An example of this is Hesse's Demian, which had a considerable impact on the younger generation after World War I. In Demian, such "transvaluation" often meant to stress exactly the opposite of traditional values; for instance, affirming the figure of Cain against Abel or the positive meaning of the prodigal son's leaving in contrast to the traditional emphasis on the return. The search for new values also implied a growing interest in many forgotten or suppressed elements of European culture as well as in other, especially Eastern, cultural traditions.
To many, however, this approach seemed to be not radical enough. They felt that all belief in values as such had become impossible and that an artist could at most try to express the absurd and hopeless situation of modern man. In this context the name of Franz Kafka is frequently mentioned as a writer who expressed the problems and the senselessness of modern existence in perhaps their most radical form. Therefore, if one tries to discuss the problem of values in modern society it is difficult to bypass Kafka. This may be one reason why so many, from artists to theologians, have been interested in his works and have been deeply influenced by them.
The Problem of Values in Kafka
But what does Kafka say? His works have provoked a seemingly endless flood of ever new and different interpretations and yet, their meaning appears to be, in many cases, as obscure as ever. What has perhaps most irritated readers and scholars alike is the apparent lack of basic values in his stories, at least of values in the traditional sense. Without such values, however, how can the interpreter attempt to find any sense in them? Must he not accept Kafka's texts as a closed world of its own which cannot be evaluated and interpreted by traditional standards? Accordingly, terms like "senseless," "absurd," "paradoxical," "ambiguous" and, of course, "kafkaesque" can be found frequently in the literature on Kafka. He himself, in a letter to Felice Bauer, his later fiancée, asks with regard to the story that marks the beginning of his literary career: "Can you discover any meaning in the 'Judgement' - some straightforward, coherent meaning that one could follow? I can't find any, nor can I explain anything in it."1
This and other similar remarks should caution Kafka's interpreters when attempting to define the meaning of his texts. But already the first important interpretation of Kafka's works, that by Max Brod, could not resist the temptation to supply the meaning apparently lacking in the texts by relating them to traditional metaphysical and religious values. He achieves this mainly by selecting only certain elements out of the complex whole that Kafka's texts represent, and by interpreting them as religious allegories.2 The Kafka-legend he thus created has exerted a baneful influence. Given his authority as Kafka's close friend and custodian of his posthumous works, his views have dominated the early period of Kafka criticism and his influence can still be felt today. In this tradition, Kafka is seen not only as a poet but also as a philosopher ("Dichterphilosoph"), and it is the latter aspect that seems to be the more important.3
Among the numerous interpretations that followed Brod's attempt many, particularly at the beginning, continued his religious and allegorical interpretation and tried in various ways, mostly without much regard to the texts, to interpret elements in Kafka's works as basic religious values such as sin, grace or God. The arbitrary way in which this was often done led occasionally to grotesque misinterpretations.4 Other scholars replaced the religious by philosophical, psychological, sociological or Marxist categories. The basic problem, however, remained the same, namely the fact that these categories were applied to Kafka's works without a previous careful analysis of the text, which in most cases would have shown them to be inappropriate.
Only gradually the need for a careful study of Kafka's texts and their distinctive features was realized. A major change was brought about by Friedrich Beißner, Martin Walser and others who rejected all previous approaches to Kafka as inadequate and allowed only a "philological interpretation," that is, an analysis and description of the aesthetic elements, the form and structure of the text.5 Particularly, they wanted to exclude from their interpretation all attempts to understand the meaning of the text by referring to existing categories and values. In this way they gained valuable insights into the distinctive nature of Kafka's texts that provided a basis for all further research in this field. Especially important was their analysis of the narrative perspective of Kafka's texts which was no longer that of an authorial narrator but to a great extent, sometimes almost exclusively, that of the protagonist or other figures in the story. One should also point out in this context Kafka's specific use of images and gestures which, in contrast for instance to traditional symbols, no longer referred to generally acknowledged values.
All this shows that conventional categories and methods of interpretation can, for the most part, no longer be applied to Kafka's texts. But does this mean that the only thing a Kafka scholar can do is give a "description of a form," as Walser has called it?6 This would exclude any kind of interpretation, any attempt to describe and evaluate the contents of Kafka's works and to relate them to existing categories and values. However, the "description of a form", too, has to use predetermined categories that may not be appropriate for the text. Even the fact that a specific language like German or English is used for such a description can mean a decisive limitation and may lead to unrecognized distortions of the meaning of the text, as will be shown below.
The basic problem that every reader of Kafka's texts faces has been defined by Peter U. Beicken as follows:
To a specific, mostly traditional, canon of questions Kafka does not respond, contrary to one's expectations. These are questions aiming at universal categories, general concepts, historical perceptions and areas of the history of thought, and in all these cases the question of the meaning of human existence plays a major role. Since the work refuses to give answers, at least clear and unequivocal answers, the early critics defined their positions in a way that corresponded rather to the needs and forms of understanding of the interpreters. This is true of the initial religious interpretation of Brod as well as of the later universalistic, psychoanalytical, sociological, existentialistic interpretations and those referring to the history of thought.7
The need to find positive values in Kafka has been most strongly felt in high schools where Kafka has been widely read since the fifties.8 In the meantime, a considerable number of books and articles has appeared in which authors try to give teachers and students help and guidelines for the reading of Kafka's texts. Unfortunately, in many of these interpretations, especially the earlier ones, we find the cliches of the earlier Kafka criticism in an excessive form. According to Beicken, there are authors who try to exploit Kafka for ideological reasons in order to manipulate the school children.9 Some of them see Kafka as a negative figure that demonstrates what happens to people who no longer believe in God and his saving grace. One can even find "substrata of fascist ideology" in one of these interpretations that emphasizes the need to resist the evil, sick and degenerate found in Kafka.10
These are extreme positions but they demonstrate a danger inherent in all interpretations of Kafka, namely to include, knowingly or unknowingly, categories, ideological substrata or preconceived ideas that transform and distort his texts. This happens, it seems to me, particularly in the case of Kafka, because of the following reasons. Most readers of Kafka will realize that he has something to say to them, something that concerns them and cannot be easily brushed aside, but they find it difficult to understand what it is.11 They cannot grasp it because it is so different from familiar categories and concepts and they are often unwilling to change or abandon these. So, whenever it seems to be possible, one is tempted to relate elements in Kafka's texts to familiar values and categories. One is even encouraged or enticed to do so by the wealth of associations contained in the text. It often seems to offer a key to the understanding of the work that one tends to accept the more readily the more it refers to the well-known and familiar. A careful study of the function of these associations within their context, however, would reveal, in most cases, the inadequacy of such interpretations.
Among the more scholarly interpretations of Kafka those by theologians have been most strongly criticized for their inappropriate reliance on traditional metaphysical or religious values and categories. Theologians have, of course, been particularly irritated by the lack of positive values, at least in the traditional sense, in Kafka's works. All the more they have become victims of the danger outlined above.
A more recent example of this is Hans Küng.12 He starts his discussion of The Castle by emphasizing that he has studied the text very carefully but "has to confess" that by no means could he find in it anything religious.13 This statement is quite astonishing. If even a scholar like Beicken, who is very critical of the theological interpretations of Kafka, stresses "the metaphysical qualities" of the novel and the "remainder of theological, philosophical" and other traditions in it,14 how could it be that a theologian does not find these at all after reading the novel several times? Küng then continues making further "admissions"15 and revealing what seem to be his insights, whereas in reality he simply refers to facts and realizations that, at the latest with the appearance of Beicken's book,16 have become widely known and generally accepted among most Kafka scholars.
There is no use discussing Küng's interpretation in detail in view of his failure to understand some of the basic problems of Kafka criticism and because of the regrettably superficial and almost dishonest way of his argumentation.17 What is interesting to note, however, is his conclusion and how he reaches it. After insinuating to the reader that he has learnt from the mistakes of his predecessors he actually repeats them, only somewhat more cautiously and less obviously. Whereas for Brod the castle represents God's grace, Küng, no less arbitrarily, declares it to be an "expression of transcendence that remains enigmatic."18 Instead of Brod's allegorical interpretation he uses a symbolic one, which is equally inappropriate.19 Like Brod he supplies positive religious elements not found in the novel by referring to Kafka's aphorisms and to biographical data, again mostly arbitrarily.20
Basically, Küng continues the practice of conservative theologians since medieval times of admitting and taking back only what they had to in view of clear evidence, but then again filling the gaps and dark areas with the traditional metaphysical or religious values. One might say that Küng's whole approach, avoiding a rational and sincere discussion, resembles the way in which metaphysical elements in The Castle manipulate the consciousness of people and prevent their emancipation.21 In any case, Küng's interpretation can be regarded as representative of many similar attempts that fail to realize how radically Kafka questioned traditional categories and values. One could perhaps say that there is a kind of religious impulse in Kafka's life and in his works and that, therefore, a modern theology could learn much from him. But this presupposes that one is willing to give up many traditional religious concepts and that one carefully listens to what Kafka has to say.
The Possibility of a Different Type of Values in Kafka
Thus far we have discussed mainly the negative aspects of Kafka criticism. This was necessary because of the specific quality of his works that compel the interpreter to change established attitudes and methods of interpretation and often to discard preconceived ideas, categories and value systems, or else misrepresent the meaning of Kafka's texts.
But why are Kafka's writings so different from most other literary texts? One reason for this may be what Bert Nagel has called "the moral quality" of Kafka's personality, the fact "that with the whole of his existence he supported his works."22 Kafka's personal attitude in this respect has been described with an astonishing intuition by Milena Jesenká, who probably understood him better than any other person in his life:
Surely the fact is that all of us, to all appearances, are able to live because we have sometime or other fled to a lie, to blindness, to enthusiasm, to optimism, to a conviction, to pessimism or the like. But he has never fled into a sheltering asylum, into none. He is absolutely incapable of lying as he is incapable of getting drunk. He is without the least refuge, without shelter. Therefore he is exposed to everything from which we are sheltered. [...] He is not a man who fabricates his asceticism as a means to an aim, he is a man who through his terrible clear-sightedness, purity and incapacity for compromise is compelled to asceticism.23
One hesitates to call this radical, uncompromising attitude an unconditional commitment to truth, though this is probably what would correspond to it in traditional terminology. Kafka himself, in his Diaries, speaks of his wish to "raise the world into the pure, the true, and the immutable" through his writing.24 I think it is this attitude that accounts for the specific, one might say "moral," quality of his works. Kafka's texts often force the interpreter, too, to commit himself unconditionally to truth, or else they may expose the tendency of many interpretations to flee "to a lie, to blindness, to enthusiasm, to optimism, to a conviction, to pessimism or the like", to use Milena's words quoted above. Kafka's works seem to be specifically designed for the purpose of revealing the hidden basic attitudes and value concepts of the interpreter, but they also offer a chance to recognize, reconsider and, if necessary, change them. This quality of Kafka's text alone already makes them important in the context of a discussion of values.
In Kafka's works, the unconditional commitment to truth means in the first place doubts, distrust and radical criticism with regard to traditional values, and often their dissolution or destruction. This also applies to the concept of truth itself that I have used here to describe Kafka's attitude. Because of the central importance of this concept in the context of a discussion of values I shall briefly investigate two passages where Kafka refers to it.
Truth, at least in its traditional sense, appears in Kafka's texts as something impossible to achieve. This is frequently expressed, particularly in his aphorisms. The dilemma of truth is also described in the following sketch from his Oktavhefte:
The human judgement on human actions is true and void, namely first true and then void.
Through the door on the right people [die Mitmenschen] burst into a room in which a family council is held, hear the last word of the last speaker, take it, stream with it through the door on the right into the world and proclaim their judgement. What is true is the judgement on the word, what is void is the judgement as such. If they wanted to make a final true judgement they would have had to stay forever in the room, would have become part of the family council and thus would have again become incapable of judging, though.
Only the party can really judge, as party, however, it cannot judge. Hence there is no possibility of judging in the world, only a glimpse of it.25
The dilemma is that in order to make "a final true judgement" one has to become part of the whole about which one wants to judge. But if this happens, a judgement is no longer possible since it presupposes impartiality, objectivity, and thus distance. Truth in this latter sense, which corresponds to the traditional understanding, cannot be achieved. This seems to be possible, however, if one becomes part of the whole, if as it were one becomes part of the truth, though then a judgement is impossible.
Truth in a sense quite different from the traditional understanding can also be found in Prometheus, a short piece of prose contained in the same third volume of the Oktavhefte as the above sketch. It is a typical example in Kafka of the dissolution and destruction of a classical motive, the myth of Prometheus, and the values associated with it, like the fight for independence and progress but also the negative values of sin and punishment.26 The text starts with the dramatic event of Prometheus' punishment and then describes a process of reduction that in the end leaves only the mass of rock to which Prometheus had been clamped. The last lines read:
There remained the inexplicable mass of rock. The legend tried to explain the inexplicable. As it came out of a substratum of truth it had in turn to end in the inexplicable.27
Truth, in this context, is something basically "inexplicable" as the repetition of the word emphasizes. The traditional legend is dissolved in so far as it was an attempt to "explain the inexplicable." But this attempt was not meaningless. Myth is related to truth, it "came out of a substratum of truth" and it leads back to it, if it is not misunderstood as an attempt at explanation, we might add. Whereas modern demythologization regards myth as too irrational and tries to reduce it to what can be explained rationally in it, Kafka considers myth as already too rational, as too much attempting to explain what is inexplicable. Truth, as it is seen here, is not the result of reflection or even construction, it is something that has always been and will always be there like the mass of rock. The text shows how all human efforts and actions, even the dramatic events of Prometheus' treason and punishment, gradually subside until only the mass of rock remains.
What can be seen here is nothing less than a reversal of the main stream of European thought and of its basic values. The figure of Prometheus, particularly as seen in Goethe's poem, is representative of the tendency in European culture to emphasize the critical and enlightened, self-reliant and free individual and his creative potential. In contrast to this tradition, Kafka does not mention Prometheus' achievements at all but describes the course of the punishment. His Prometheus is completely passive. He becomes one with the rock and disappears together with all other activities. What remains in the end is not the 'I' as in Goethe's Prometheus, but the inexplicable truth of the mass of rock to which everything seems to return eventually.
It seems to me that Kafka points back here to a pre-mythological stage [see "Stones"] where the sight of mountains, old trees and other extraordinary natural phenomena filled people with awe and veneration, a time when they felt to be part of a greater whole that they accepted as it was, without trying to explain it. Myths and legends emerged when people started to reflect on these phenomena. By reversing the whole tradition that began there Kafka draws our attention to a basic human attitude that many in our modern world, particularly in the West, no longer perceive. It is, however, still alive in many Eastern and other non-European cultures. In Japan one can find it especially in the Shintō tradition.
Kafka's interest in China seems to point into the same direction.28 But unlike many of his contemporaries leaning toward exoticism and escapism, Kafka limits himself to what he can observe in the world around him or find in himself as basic human possibilities. Some of the phenomena that he obviously regards as particularly relevant may, however, not be fully realized or are even suppressed in the Western tradition, whereas they are emphasized in many Eastern cultures. This is the reason why a number of important values and basic attitudes in Kafka can be grasped more easily and evaluated more correctly if they are interpreted from within these Eastern traditions.
To give a concrete example, I came upon this possibility for the first time when I began to understand the Japanese phenomenon of amae and the mentality behind it while, at the same time, reading Kafka. It then suddenly struck me that there were many passages in Kafka's works and biographical materials which corresponded directly to the mentality of amae and which, for the first time, I could understand. At the same time I could show why and how most Kafka scholars had misunderstood these texts, because they relied on value concepts and categories that Kafka questioned or even rejected in these same passages.29
The basic issues involved here and their complex interrelations are described by Kafka in one his best known shorter pieces of prose, Up in the Gallery. This seemingly simple story has often been discussed but, in many cases, has been completely misinterpreted. A careful analysis of the text can, in my view, show that these misinterpretations are partly culturally determined and that this problem itself is demonstrated in the text.30
The story describes, in two long sentences, two different ways in which a visitor to the gallery observes and reacts to what happens in the ring of a circus. It thus demonstrates two basic human attitudes, two different modes of being and the possibilities and limitations they contain. The two roughly correspond to what is considered typical of "Western" and "Eastern" mentality, to the stereotypes of the masculine and the feminine or to C. G. Jung's distinction between animus and anima. It is also in line with Jung's theory that distorted elements of the one are found in the other. The first attitude aims at detachment, exact analysis, clear logical connections, hypothetical considerations, social-critical engagement and action; the second is characterized by closeness to reality or even by being one with it, by accepting and leaving things as they are, by passivity and the absence of critical consciousness. What is most remarkable now is the fact that almost all interpretations evaluate the former positively and the latter negatively, though a careful reading of the text and its context clearly shows that this is not justified. Kafka balances both and rather emphasizes the second attitude. The said misinterpretation is obviously caused by cultural factors that make it difficult for many Western readers, particularly scholars, to evaluate the elements of the second attitude positively, and because this would require them to give up some of their traditional categories and value concepts. The positive meaning of the second attitude can however be appreciated if the text is interpreted from the point of view of Japanese mentality which in many ways corresponds to it.
The problem begins already with the language used for the interpretation. The above description in English of the two basic attitudes in Up in the Gallery was fairly easy to give in the case of the first attitude, but the second is difficult to grasp and describe in English (or German, etc.), especially if one tries to avoid negative evaluations. Japanese, however, is much more appropriate to describe the second attitude. The acceptance of reality as it is, for instance, corresponds to the Japanese terms sono mama or ari no mama and their implications. The structure of the second part of Up in the Gallery and the description there of the events in the ring shows some astonishing similarities to Japanese language (and therefore, from a typical Western point of view, the second part appears as vague, ambiguous and full of contradictions). It is fascinating to see the extent to which Kafka has been able to create such a language, in spite of the limitations of German in this respect.
Another interesting aspect of Up in the Gallery is the fact that the same two basic attitudes that are described in the text are also required of the interpreter himself, or else he ends up in the same hopeless situation as the visitor to the gallery. This is amply demonstrated by the majority of the interpretations of this story.
What Kafka shows in Up in the Gallery is, in my view, the need for a balance or integration of both attitudes or modes of being. But his protagonists rarely come even close to it. They usually rather struggle with the negative factors that prevent them from any progress in this direction. Only in some cases the possibility of such an integration is indicated. In The Top, for instance, the top, characterized by the unity of movement and Ruhe (rest, repose), shows to the philosopher the possibility of integrating both a searching, critical consciousness and the oneness with things.31
The only example in Kafka of a protagonist who apparently succeeds in integrating both modes of being and therefore probably the most "positive" figure in Kafka's works, is, in my view, Ulysses in The Silence of the Sirens. It seems appropriate to place it at the end of this paper as a good example of Kafka's "transvaluation of values" and the new possibilities that can emerge from it.32
At the beginning of the story already the traditional image of Ulysses is destroyed with mocking irony. It is the image of a man who knows more than others, who calculates, reflects, acts consciously and fights to win superiority. In its place, a new, contrasting figure of Ulysses gradually emerges. Again, it is difficult to describe this new figure and the different values it represents because of the lack of appropriate positive terms in English. There is something in it of the innocence and joy of childhood, of an almost naive absolute trust, of an unconscious oneness with himself that makes Ulysses unassailable. At the end, even the possibility of a complete integration of the two opposing attitudes or modes of being is indicated. It would mean that Ulysses acts like a naive, innocent child, unconscious of everything around, and that at the same time he knows what he is doing, observing himself detachedly, from a higher position.
1 Franz Kafka, Letters to Felice, E. Heller and J. Born, eds. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978), 382-383.
2 Cf. e.g. Peter U. Beicken's criticism of Brod in his Franz Kafka: Eine kritische Einführung in die Forschung (Frankfurt a. M.: Athenäum Fischer, 1974), 22-25.
3 This is the reason why the name of Kafka appears even in philosophical dictionaries, e.g. in the Philosophisches Wörterbuch, G. Schischkoff, ed. (Stuttgart: Kröner, 1961), 289, where Kafka is introduced as "Dichterphilosoph" and his "teaching" is explained, clearly under the influence of Brod's view of Kafka.
4 An example of this is Kurt Weinberg, Kafkas Dichtungen: Die Travestien des Mythos (Bern and München: Francke, 1963).
5 Cf. Beicken, op. cit., 69-75.
6 Cf. the title of his work: Beschreibung einer Form (München: Hanser, 1961).
7 Op. cit., 100 (my translation, as in all other cases where I refer to the German original).
8 Cf. Dietrich Krusche, "Kafka als Schulklassiker," in Kafka-Handbuch, H. Binder, ed. (Stuttgart: Kröner, 1979), 2:860-871.
9 Op. cit., 95.
10 Cf. ibid., 95-96.
11 Cf. Beicken, who emphasizes with regard to The Castle: "... daß sich der Leser im 'Schloß' in einer Welt befindet, die die seine ist, deren Entstellungen nur noch nicht in sein Bewußtsein gedrungen sind." (op. cit., 338).
12 Hans Küng, "Religion im Zusammenbruch der Moderne," W. Jens and H. Küng, Dichtung und Religion (München: Kindler, 1985), 286-305.
13 Ibid., 288.
14 Op. cit., 336.
15 Op. cit., 290-291.
16 Küng indirectly seems to admit his indebtedness to Beicken when he briefly quotes him (though the first part of the quote is actually from a different source) and refers to his book as "informative" (op. cit., 292).
17 To give but a few examples: Küng seems not to realize the basic difference between the philological and the biographical methods; he does not discuss at all the problems of the text, its extreme complexity, ambivalence, irony, the narrative perspective, etc. but gives only a superficial summary of the contents; he grossly exaggerates (op. cit., 291) the importance of biographical data used for the interpretation of The Castle by Brod ("decisive") as well as by Wagenbach and Binder ("immense" contribution).
18 Op. cit., 296. Against such interpretations Beicken clearly states with regard to the protagonist of The Castle: "Er begegnet keiner überirdischen Sphäre, sondern erlebt eine Wirklichkeit, die sich je nach seinem Interesse und Vorverständnis umformt und nie deutlich greifbar wird, denn alle Phänomene werden immer wieder in den Kategorien eines Bewußtseins verstanden, das sich nicht von der Last des ererbten Vorstellungsgutes befreit." (op. cit., 336)
19 Op. cit., 296-297. Quite inappropriate is Küng's (297) reference to On Parables, which is not a "meditation" as he maintains and which, moreover, is used by a number of scholars to demonstrate just the opposite of what Küng emphasizes, namely the difference to the traditional function of parables and symbols. Again, a discussion of this can be found in Beicken who states among others: "Der transzendierende Sprung, zu dem das Gleichnis normalerweise auffordert, wird bei Kafka verhindert." (op. cit., 169)
20 Kafka's humour, serenity, gentleness, composure, etc., of which Brod speaks, are sufficient for Küng to make him sure (op. cit., 300) that Kafka was personally to some extent religious and believing. Passages in Kafka's Diaries he regards as prayer-like, as "Meditationen, Gewissenserforschungen coram deo abscondito gewissermaßen," without concern for the wider context, Kafka's personality, other passages in the Diaries, etc. (The text he cites, from July 20, 1916 [not February as he writes] is distorted by leaving out a passage that sounds quite different.) Küng also attaches great importance to passages in Gustav Janouch's Conversations with Kafka, although the book is known to be largely faked (cf. Eduard Goldstücker, "Kafkas Eckermann? Zu Gustav Janouchs 'Gespräche mit Kafka'," Franz Kafka: Themen und Probleme, C. David, ed. [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1980], 238-255f).
21 Cf. the quote from Beicken in note 18.
22 Bert Nagel, "Wirkung auf Kritik und Wissenschaft," Kafka-Handbuch, H. Binder, ed. (Stuttgart: Kröner, 1979), 2:639.
23 From a letter to Max Brod quoted by him in his Franz Kafka: Eine Biographie (Frankfurt a. M.: Fischer, 1962) 281-282.
24 The Diaries of Franz Kafka, M. Brod, ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975), 387.
25 Franz Kafka, Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande und andere Prosa aus dem Nachlaß (Frankfurt a. M.: S. Fischer, 1953), 86 (November 24, 1917).
26 For a detailed discussion of the text see my "The Dissolution of Myth in Kafka's Prometheus and The Silence of the Sirens," Humanities 18 (1984), 97-109
27 F. Kafka, The Complete Stories, N. N. Glatzer, ed. (New York: Schocken, 1971), 432.
28 Kafka's closeness to Taoism in a number of his texts has been pointed out by Joo-Dong Lee, Taoistische Weltanschauung im Werk Franz Kafkas (Frankfurt-Bern-Cirencester: Lang, 1985). His interpretation is not always convincing, though.
29 See my "Zu Kafkas Erzählung 'Josefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse'," Doitsu Bungaku 58 (1977), 79-88; "Images of Amae in Kafka: With Special Reference to Metamorphosis," Humanities 15 (1980), 66-83; Nihon kara mita mō hitori no Kafuka, M. Takii, trans. (Tokyo: Dōgaku-sha, 1988). It was interesting for me to learn, in this context, that many Japanese in turn find it difficult to realize the way in which Kafka shows the limitations and negative elements in the world of amae, obviously because of a similar, culturally conditioned bias.
30 The following summarizes the results of my analysis of the text in "Masculine and Feminine Aspects of Creativity: With an Analysis of Kafka's Up in the Gallery," Humanities 16 (1982), 105-124; "Kafkas Auf der Galerie: Bild der Ausweglosigkeit auch der Kafka-Forschung?," Doitsu Bungaku 71 (1983), 118-127. My interpretation is partly based on Jörgen Kobs, Kafka, U. Brech, ed. (Bad Homburg: Athenäum, 1970). For further references cf. the above articles.
31 See my "Kafkas 'Der Kreisel': Die Grenzen philosophischer Erkenntnis," Humanities 19 (1985), 175-194.
32 For further details and references see my The Dissolution... (op. cit.) 109-119.