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Kafka Toward a Minor Literature (Theory & History of Literature) Paperback – 31 Oct 1986

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Product details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press; 9th edition (31 Oct 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816615152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816615155
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. Scott on 6 Jan 2012
Format: Paperback
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles's review below outlines a conventional A-level cramming notes view of Kafka but fails to engage with any aspect of the text under consideration or with any of the authors original ideas. He merely seems angry that he could not understand the challenging language and ideas in the book. His review displays almost no knowledge of Deleuze and Guattari's concepts, the origins and development of their ideas, their critique of biographical literary interpretation, the importance they place on Kafka or of their view of art and literature as sources of new philosophical concepts. IMO his is not a genuine review, merely an ignorant rant which Amazon should remove.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mrs J Downes on 23 Oct 2004
Format: Paperback
While most interpretations of Kafka's work centre around a psychoanalytic point of view, especially concerning the Oedipal rebellion as it corresponded to his real-life relationship with his father, this book proposes that these sort of approaches only denigrate Kafka's work by applying terms of reference which are not suitable. By asserting that Kafka's work must be read POLITICALLY (and no, not in a Marxist way, rather in the sense that it overtly sets out to change the prevailing standards) rather than as an intimate portrayal of his life (something Kafka himself hated) they, quite convincingly, argue that his work is a subverison of language, not of personal, cultural, or religious signification. The work is semi-accesible (though at points head scratchingly vague in that super-intellectual sense) and undoubtably interesting for those enamored of Kafka's work, but it is important to understand that Deleuze and Guattari come to this subject with an alterior motive in mind (Deleuze being a philospher/theorist, Guattari being a psychoanalyst). Deleuze (I cannot speak of Guattari) coming from a semi-deconstructionist angle and therefore interested in destabilising essentialism (meaning that it is within their own self interests to confirm this theory rather than explore it). With this in mind however, this work is extremely rich and a refreshing counterpoint to all the "the bug was Kafka" interpretations.
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By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is tedium. And Chomsky is right about European navel gazing - behold the belly fluff taken in chunks by the Aristopseudery.

Kafka is a great soothsayer of the 20th C. The depth of knowledge in the minutiae of bureaucracies derived from an involved experience, the constant passing of the baton and psychological wearing down of the supplicant. The invocation in the Castle and the Trial, are key works alongside 1984, Catch 22, Sorrows of War and Celine's early work. Jaws another insight looks at how a town bureaucracy covers up a problem until it becomes obvious echoing SARS in China.

Kafka articulated entrapment in the bureaucratic gaze, the impersonalised demeaning feeling of utter powerlessness, caught within time for some unknown crime. Procedures existing to provide fair play and civility are revealed as masques. Help only exists to suck out the lifeblood and money out of the already trapped.

Displays of power and authority are initially couched in kind gestures in the book. The impersonal nature of the entrapment makes it all the more terrifying as the tormentors do not have personal dislike.

Deleuze and Guattari fail in every respect to engage. This is pseuds corner writ large written in obtuse, opaque language only the acolyte and disciple could unravel.

Locked in the police station.

"Do you notice the contours of those tiles on the wall? The colors are not evenly matched and the grouting appears disfigured."

Meanwhile the screams of real anguish fail to penetrate the ears that cannot ear because they are bodies without organs. In fact they may consist of a rhythm yet to be decoded. This intrepid pair of minutiae gatherers, a schizo machine wish to disrupt linearity.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The machine of Leibniz and it's transcendence in Spinoza suggests the machine of Kafka. Refreshing and positive, in the way that Kafka viewed his existence.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
101 of 105 people found the following review helpful
In Machina Res 5 Jan 2001
By Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
According to Deleuze & Guattari, we have suffered too long amidst the retrograde critical judgements of mainstream Kafka scholarship. Ad nauseum, these pedestrian hacks have given us Kafka the alienated loner, Kafka the neurotic metaphysician, Kafka the theological invert, Kafka the gynephobic prisoner of ascesis, Kafka the self-hating Jew, Kafka the suicidal insomniac. Scholars have made their reputations by sending this great author on greased skids to Hell, earmarking him as an avatar of the Negative, a nodal point of absurdity and paradox, the pilgrim of an epic and hallucinatory Guilt Trip (partly at fault are the Muir translations, which categorically pitch the Kafkan voice as a syntax of doom and alienation). No doubt Kafka suffered immensely in his professional, family, and erotic life, in the anti-Semitic maw of Czech nationalism, in the iron-maiden of terrors both historical and metaphysical, but critics who reach their limit in expounding the pain and absurdity of the Kafka trajectory are providing us with a false and incomplete picture of this sublime literary event.
D & G decided to bring the hammer down on these reflexive doomsayers, to restore some of the joy and vibrant panache to Kafka studies. They wanted to bring him "`a little of this joy, this amorous political life that he knew how to offer, how to invent. So many dead writers must have wept over what was written about them. [We] hope that Kafka enjoyed the book that we wrote about him'"(xxv). It is useful to recall the evening Kafka read the opening chapter of *The Trial* to his circle of literary friends, assailed by roars of laughter, Kafka himself laughing so hard he had to constantly stop reading to wipe tears from his eyes. The ramifications of this episode have been repressed and overturned by the necrophilic martyrology of a reflexive Kafka scholarship. For here we have gone beyond any mere "laughter of the Abyss," the impish cackle of "black comedy," the doomed precincts of Camus's "cosmology of the Absurd." Kafka's hilarity is a laughter of resistance, of felicity, of squeezing some measure of freedom out of our peremptory and obstructionist universe. As argued in this text, the battle is within and against the political, economic, technological, bureaucratic, judiciary, and linguistic machines which held Kafka's language in thrall to its obstacles and terrors.
Here is a cento of principles developed by D & G in their dissenting text, the prolegomenon to any future in Kafka scholarship:
1. Isolation from the Law is not merely the absence of God (coinciding with the SNAFU of metaphysical realism) but rather entails the eternal suspension of judgement, ultimately an Artaudian desire "to have done with Judgement."
2. The question of ASCESIS. Deleuze has long underscored the idea that when a writer or philosopher espouses an "ascetic" lifestyle it is only as a means to achieving a more subterranean pitch of libertinism (or Life). Kafka had plenty of opportunities for conventional happiness, to live the life of a Max Brod, for example. Rather he followed the witch's wind of literary apprenticeship, a far profounder Life although, from a judgemental distance, appearing monstrous and ill-fated.
3. Kafka's oeuvre is characterized by a complete lack of *complacency*, and stands accordingly as a total rejection of every problematic of Failure. His suicidal fantasies, then, were not merely an agonizing cry of despair, but also a series of unmerciful thought-experiments designed to charge the literary machine, to clear the waters for fresh speculation.
4. Reflexive scholarship tends to move backward from unknowns to knowns (i.e. the castle is God, the beetle is oedipal frustration, the penal colony is fascism, the singing mouse is a writer, and writers are those who express CONTENT and represent THINGS). Rather we should take Walter Benjamin to his limit, by acclimatizing ourselves to a mode of literature "that consists in propelling the most diverse contents on the basis of (nonsignifying) ruptures and intertwinings of the most heterogeneous orders of signs and powers"(xvii).
5. Renovate the battlefield...: reterritorialize Kafka's "metaphysical" estrangement onto the concrete political arrangements with which he engaged throughout his life. Understand the political or "fantasmatic" nature of Kafka's simulations, that his fictions are not merely an allegory of resistance to fascism, but the infiltration of a ruptured sensibility into the fascistic functioning of the Law, a node of deterritorialization inside the torn apart.
6. The desire for innocence is as pernicious as the fetishization of guilt, since both imply an Infinity by which we can define and calibrate Judgement. Justice is desire and not law. Desire is a social investment traversed and legitimized by Kafka's literary machine, which "is capable of anticipating or precipitating contents into conditions that...concern an entire collectivity"(60), which speak for a people that may not be prepared to live through its message.
Perhaps I'm trying too hard to cram difficult arguments into tiny hard-to-swallow capsules. The text itself has to be read to be believed. Perhaps in response to those who felt *Capitalism and Schizophrenia* did not provide enough "concrete examples," D & G have steered their war-machine onto one of the most treacherous and misunderstood literary oeuvres of the preceding century. The result will either leave you cold (as is the case with virtually every reader I've conferred with on this text) or revolutionize your jilted perceptions of a great author.
I read Kafka as a great introduction to Deleuze and Guattari's conceptualisation of the assemblage 20 Sep 2014
By Glen Fuller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read Kafka as a great introduction to Deleuze and Guattari's conceptualisation of the assemblage. Must read text if you are at the early stages of your trajectory through their work.
8 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Kafka and Deleuze hand-in-hand. 24 Nov 1999
By chiang fame - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The detailed concepts on how Gilles Deleuze read Kafka still amazed me. To understand Deleuze, one must read Deleuze in relation to Kafka.
21 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Unabashed Apologia For the Postmodern Literary Bureaucracy 22 Sep 2005
By Guy Berra - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is not good literary exegesis, it is an unabashed apologia for a literary bureaucracy, another pamphlet of the endless "literary production" under the pseudo-Marxist homology of poststructuralism. It ends up merely as a political struggle to save Kafka for purposes of cultural and intellectual identity.

This book purports to get at "the real Kafka," by stripping the man and his work of all transcendent pretensions assigned him by critics of the old school, by making him a model for the new uniformed postmodernist-socialist man. In "Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature," Deleuze and Guatarri have done the same things they accuse the old Kafkologists of doing, in effect stripping Kafka of his old Kafkalogical baggage only to create a new Kafkology, one that focuses more on a weird interpretive biography of the man as celebrity than it does by trying to understand his works in their modernist setting.
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