Kafka in England: a study of Kafka’s influence on selected novels by Rex Warner, Kazuo Ishiguro and W G Sebald

Lockwood, David (2020). Kafka in England: a study of Kafka’s influence on selected novels by Rex Warner, Kazuo Ishiguro and W G Sebald. University of Birmingham. M.Litt.

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This dissertation investigates the impact of Franz Kafka’s fiction upon three novelists based in England: Rex Warner, Kazuo Ishiguro and W G Sebald. The Introduction briefly considers theoretical issues regarding influence and intertextuality, and distinguishes between the Kafkaesque and the Kafkan. Chapter One examines ‘markers’ of Kafka’s influence. These can be broadly divided into two groups: ‘superficial’, readily imitable narratorial/stylistic devices and motifs, such as dislocations in space and time; and ‘deep’ features, principally resistance to interpretation and the enactment of principal themes. Thus ‘double thought’ and recursive narrative structures enact Kafka’s epistemic and metaphysical scepticism. The following three chapters discuss in turn Warner’s The Wild Goose Chase and The Aerodrome; Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled; and Sebald’s Vertigo and Austerlitz. Throughout I attempt to ascertain precisely what these writers borrowed from Kafka; and why and how they adapted Kafkan tropes and techniques to their purposes. For example, Warner’s spatio-temporal anomalies indicate the power of political authorities to manipulate reality; Ishiguro’s reveal his protagonist’s mental disintegration, and Sebald’s, the interwovenness of past and present. And do these writers’ works reveal ‘deep’ markers of the Kafkan? Since one plausible overarching interpretation is available in each case, I conclude that none are in every respect Kafkan.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Litt.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Litt.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Other Funders: None
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
P Language and Literature > PE English
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/10362


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