The Traffic of Writing: Technologies of Intercourse in the Letters to Milena



As we saw toward the end of the last chapter, Kafka viewed his father’s body as imperial. Writing just one year after the collapse of the German and Austrian empires, Kafka attacks a father he stylizes as an emperor. The father spreads his strapping body across the globe, and not much space is left for the son. For Kafka, this patriarchal body inflects all societal structures: religion, education, and, most important, marriage. When depicting the father’s expansive body (in the passage cited in part above from Kafka’s “Dearest Father” letter), Kafka specifically names marriage as the site that this imperial body covers:

But we being what we are, marrying is barred to me because it is your very own domain. Sometimes I imagine the map of the world spread out and you stretched diagonally across it. And I feel as if I could consider living in only those regions that either are not covered by you or are not within your reach. And in keeping with the conception I have of your magnitude, these are not many and not very comforting regions—and marriage is not among them. (BV 115)


Rail System Letter Writing Secret Code Train Traffic Relative Travel Time 
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  1. 29.
    Jürgen Born and Michael Müller, “Kafkas Briefe an Milena: Ihre Datierung,” Jahrbuch der deutschen Schillergesellschaft 25 (1981): 514.Google Scholar

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© John Zilcosky 2003

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