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Exclusion and Renewal. Identity and Jewishness in Franz Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis' and David Vogels's 'Married Life'

In this study I explore literary structures of identity-formation in the works of assimilated/acculturated Jewish writers: Kafka’s novella “The Metamorphosis” (“Die Verwandlung”, 1912) and David Vogel’s Hebrew novel Married Life. 1929).

Francina Valk
18 March 2015
Full text available in Leiden University Repository

Kafka and David Vogel wrote their works when the failure of Jewish assimilation began to dawn on assimilated/acculturated European Jewry, and an upsurge of hatred of Jews made it, as someone put it: “as impossible to be, as not to be a Jew (by assimilation/ acculturation)”.

What I aim to show is that during that deadlock of Jewish identity, new structures of identity began to emerge in the literary works of Jews. Works demonstrating the power not to represent the world of located subjects but to imagine, create and vary affects, that were not already given: not already tied down to communication and signification in the social order.

That is what Deleuze and Guattari call minor literature, namely literature that does not add a work to the great tradition but disrupts and dislocates that tradition. Minor literature represents nothing but the power to be different. All great literature, according to Deleuze and Guattari, is minor in this sense: it is the vehicle for the creation rather than the expression of identity

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