From Minor Literature to After-Literature: The Poetics of Defeatism in Franz Kafka
Deleuze and Guattari’s groundbreaking work “Franz Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature” has ushered a new era of literary and political criticism within the community of Kafka’s readership. However, since Hannah Arendt’s commentaries on Kafka in 1960s, many political theorists have attempted to portray Kafka as the fabricator mundi of resistance and revolution, even an exemplar of emancipatory thinking. Though such messianic readings of Kafka are instrumental to Deleuze and Guattari’s work on Kafka, I will argue that Dueleuze and Guattari’s politicization of Kafka’s work negates the aesthetic interior of what I call the poetics of defeatism. By rejecting as well as extending Deleuze and Guattari’s operational concepts on minor literature, I will argue that Kafka’s work is characterized by hierarchies of defeatism in which every fable proliferates to an infinitival narrative by virtue of its enigmatic writing technique and literary theme. Invoking the connections between his parables and the extension of these parables into longer narratives, I aim to show how Kafka’s narrative theme is characterized by an almost mystic force of incompletion – an incompletion that always marks the passing of defeatism in each narrative. And this principle of incompletion, in turn, forging the means of the imagined inaction of the narrative theme that is prolonged to infinity, which transcends Kafka’s work from minor literature to what I call ‘after-literature’. Rejecting the emancipatory readings of Kafka, I will argue that Kafka’s work is beyond political interpretation due to the poetics of defeatism.
Keywords: Kafka, Deleuze, Minor-literature, Negative Theology
Mr. Pavan Kumar Malreddy
Doctorial Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Saskatchewan