Kafka, the Afterlife, and Transmigration of Souls

June O. Leavitt

in The Mystical Life of Franz Kafka

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199827831
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919444 | DOI:
Kafka, the Afterlife, and Transmigration of Souls

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A belief in spiritual destiny and the existence of the soul runs through Kafka’s dream chronicles. Similarly, a thematic treatment of the soul and its transmigrations figures in some of his fiction. Two short stories Kafka wrote in 1917--“The Bucket Rider” and “The Hunter Gracchus” deal with after-life experiences. To better understand Kafka’s eschatological viewpoint which is a component of his mystical life, this chapter examines the symbols and motifs used in these two stories to portray the journey of the soul. However, Kafka’s representation of transmigration can also be understood in light of theories about post-death experiences and doctrines of reincarnation associated with certain esoteric traditions which were revived during the modern Spiritual Revival.

Keywords: transmigration; Kafka; reincarnation; after-life; pre-existence of souls; platonism; life after death; cycle of birth and death; rebirth; wheel of life

Chapter.  9298 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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