Kafka’s Jewish Perspectivism

“Kafka, however unmistakable the ethnic source of his ‘liveliness’ and alienation, avoided Jewish parochialism, and his allegories of pained awareness take upon themselves the entire European—that is to say, predominantly Christian—malaise.”

— John Updike, from his Introduction to Kafka’s Collected Stories.

“When Kafka declared the impossibility of writing German, it was plainly not the overriding mastery of his language that was in doubt, but its ownership—not that German did not belong to him, but that he did not belong to it. German was unassailably at the root of his tongue: might he claim it societally, nationally, as a natural inheritance, as an innate entitlement? The culture that touched him at all points had a prevailing Jewish coloration.”

— Cynthia Ozick, “How Kafka Actually Lived

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