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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 Castle: No Mitsein, No Verifiable Interpretation

The Castle: No Mitsein, No Verifiable Interpretation

(p.103) 4 The Castle: No Mitsein, No Verifiable Interpretation
The Conflagration of Community

J. Hillis Miller

University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates another of Kafka’s works, The Castle. The founding hypothesis in this chapter revolves around the notion that “community” depends on the assumption that each member of a community has access, in some form or another, to the thoughts and feelings of his or her neighbor. This, in a way, recounts Heidegger’s idea of Mitsein or “being with” (intersubjectivity). In The Castle there is a certain lack of this aspect. The characters have no connection or access to the minds of other characters. The narrative voice is also limited in its accessing of the protagonist’s mind. In a way, it forms an incomplete novel that simply denies interpretation. The Castle seems to work as a premonition of Auschwitz in terms of the breakdown of community togetherness, including the belief in the Mitsein. The goal of the chapter, then, is to determine whether The Castle can be viewed as a foreshadowing of Auschwitz.

Keywords:   community, The Castle, Mitsein, Heidegger, intersubjectivity, being with, Auschwitz, foreshadowing of Auschwitz

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