In Kafka’s writing, law is an omnipresent, yet uncanny, topic. The writer challenges general expectations associated with the nature of law: his literary accounts call into question the modern legal system as well as its moral and political fundaments. Against these aspects Kafka reinstalls fundamental pre-civilizatory and archaic forces of being, such as power and Eros. The present lecture posits that Kafka’s literature – closer to the Greek drama than to the modern novel – challenges the moral and social institution of law with the mythical forces of life.

About the Speaker: ANDREAS KILCHER is professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zurich and director of the Center for the History of Knowledge. Kilcher is a prominent scholar of German-Jewish literature and culture, Kabbalah, esotericism and the literary studies of knowledge. He has written and edited a wide range of publications in these fields, among them several texts on Kafka. Forthcoming is an essay on the poetics and politics of Heinrich Heine’s wit.