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The Conflagration of CommunityFiction before and after Auschwitz$
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J. Hillis Miller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226527215

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226527239.001.0001

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The Breakdown of Community and the Disabling of Speech Acts in Kafka’s The Trial

The Breakdown of Community and the Disabling of Speech Acts in Kafka’s The Trial

(p.67) 3 The Breakdown of Community and the Disabling of Speech Acts in Kafka’s The Trial
The Conflagration of Community

J. Hillis Miller

University of Chicago Press

With the book’s claim that literary work can be viewed in retrospect to have had a prophetic ability to foreshadow future events, this chapter first suggests that Kafka’s work foreshadows Guantánamo Bay’s current situation. The chapter explores Shosana Felman’s classic essay on Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah. The film itself is made of a metonymic series of videoed testimonies by victims, perpetrators, and bystanders of the Shoah, evading any form of complete or total understanding. Der Process is also examined in this chapter, exploring the case of Josef K., who suffered from the lack of a fair trial and was instead sentenced to execution. Josef K.’s life experience of this unjust social structure, in a way, also anticipates the situation of Guantánamo Bay’s detainees today. This chapter examines these works as well as Kafka’s own The Trial and investigates in detail one salient feature of their foreshadowing of Auschwitz.

Keywords:   Kafka, Shosana Felman, Claud Lanzmann, Shoah, Der Process, Josef K, Guantánamo Bay, The Trial, Auschwitz

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