The University of Wisconsin Press

Judaica / Literature & Criticism / History


Kafka and Cultural Zionism
Dates in Palestine
Iris Bruce

A multi-dimensional portrait of Kafka's life, literature, and historical context that evokes his humor, playfulness, and rebellious nature

Kafka and Cultural Zionism is an illumination of the individual Jewish identity of this major modernist German author. Through a thorough examination of Kafka's life, his influences, and his writings, Iris Bruce makes a case for Kafka's interest in Zionism and demonstrates the presence of Jewish themes and motifs in Kafka's literary works. In recognizing this essential part of Kafka's individual voice, Bruce hopes to provide a new perspective on Kafka and his writings that allows the reader to find the humor, playfulness, rebelliousness, and challenge that can be overlooked if the reader expects to find a Kafka who is disengaged from his ethnic and cultural identity, as well as the politics of his age.

"For some years now, Iris Bruce has been regarded by specialists as one of the very best Kafka scholars, admired for the meticulous scholarship of her articles and essays and her indefatigable archival work. Her special field of interest has been the Jewish and Hebrew background of Kafka's writings; and now the fruits of her decade-long immersion are at hand in a lucidly written study-detailed, engaging, comprehensive, up-to-date. It will be indispensable reading for lovers of Kafka, who will be fascinated by the full spectrum of Kafka's involvement in the cultural Zionism of his day. Until now, many of Kafka's mentions of Jewish themes, long suppressed in German editions of his journals and correspondence, have not been properly studied. Bruce's achievement makes it possible for the first time to appreciate in full the elegance of Kafka's literary transformation of this cultural stock."–Stanley Corngold, professor of German and comparative literature, Princeton University

"Focusing on cultural Zionism in Prague (and the rest of German-speaking Europe) during the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Bruce makes a compelling case that Kafka was one of the proto-cultural Zionists and quickly identified with the moment once it was established."
–Sander L. Gilman, Emory University, author of Franz Kafka, A Biography

Iris Bruce is associate professor of German and comparative literature at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She has published numerous articles on Kafka and Yiddish literature, Jewish folklore, Zionism, and Kafka in popular culture.

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Of Related Interest
In the Heart of the Seas
S. Y. Agnon
Translated by I. M. Lask, illustrated by T. Herzl Rome

The cover of Bruce's book is brown with an old photo of Kafka as a young man.

Spring 2007
LC: 2006031027 PT
282 pp.   6 x 9   7 b/w illus.
Cloth $65.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-22190-4

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Updated August 17, 2010

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