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The Imperative to WriteDestitutions of the Sublime in Kafka, Blanchot and Beckett$
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Jeff Fort

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254699

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254699.001.0001

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Embodied Violence and the Leap from the Law

Embodied Violence and the Leap from the Law

“In the Penal Colony” and The Trial

Chapter:
(p.101) Chapter 3 Embodied Violence and the Leap from the Law
Source:
The Imperative to Write
Author(s):

Jeff Fort

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823254699.003.0004

This chapter continues to develop the analysis of Kafka’s work from previous chapters through a discussion of the final “judgment stories,” “In the Penal Colony” and The Trial. It is shown that these narratives take the logic of sublime power and judgment to its furthest extreme in a juridical violence that merges bodily execution, language, and the law. The disciplinary nature of the law and of writing are foregrounded and intensified to the point of murder. At the same time, Kafka’s most violent and extreme judgment narratives decouple the body from the law in more subtle ways that allow for a possible escape or exit from the space of the law. It is shown that this exit is staged in every one of the judgment stories as a leap from a confined space, but only in The Trial does this leap from the law lead to something other than death or foreclosure. In formal and linguistic terms, this exit from the law in The Trial corresponds to an emphasis not on the drama of defense speech and judgment but rather on the dispersal and disaggregation of rumor, gossip, and slander.

Keywords:   Franz Kafka, “In the Penal Colony”, The Trial, law, writing, the body, violence, slander

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