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‘He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!’: Radicalising hermeneutics with Kafka’s The Castle

Tomkins, Leah (2019). ‘He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!’: Radicalising hermeneutics with Kafka’s The Castle. Tamara, the Journal of Critical Organization Inquiry (In Press).

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This paper explores the politics of interpretation from the perspective of hermeneutic theory. It presents a reading of Kafka’s novel The Castle focused on critique of the business of interpretation, where suspicion unfolds in distorted, possibly fraudulent, sense-making between protagonist, narrator and reader. The protagonist’s mission is neither heroic nor a call to resistance to bureaucratic absurdity, but instead, the result of hubris, hoax, or even a slip of the pen, and it becomes impossible to unpick the perils of bureaucracy from the perils of interpretation, or to distinguish between error and insight. In mining discrepancies between justification, effort and reward of interpretation, Kafka punctures the mythology of understanding, rupturing the near-sacrosanct hermeneutic connection between interpretation and meaning. His work undermines both objective and subjective understandings, leaving us distrustful of both expert and experiential perspectives. In a post-truth era with its ‘alternative facts’, The Castle feels startlingly fresh and relevant.

Item Type: Journal Item
ISSN: 1532-5555
Keywords: Kafka; hermeneutics; experience
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for People and Organisations
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 66708
Depositing User: Leah Tomkins
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2019 11:29
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2019 21:31
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