Chapter

The Mystical Life of Animals: Investigations of a Vegetarian

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827831.003.0016
The Mystical Life of Animals: Investigations of a Vegetarian

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This chapter explores the possibility that Kafka’s abstention from meat and empathy for animals may have generated his large repertoire of narratives written from a mammal, rodent or insects’ points of view. Using the story “Investigations of a Dog” as a paradigm, the chapter argues that the canine narrator depicts a transformative spiritual experience which contains vivid traces of personal revelation. At the same time, the chapter shows how the ideology concerning the divine nature of animals and the vice of slaughtering animals which was ubiquitous during Kafka’s day is reflected in the prose. The canine narrator’s rhetoric may have actually been borrowed from the Christological occult discourse employed by the two vegetarian naturopaths who influenced Kafka’s life. This chapter attempts to demonstrate how their discourse deeply opposed the Jewish cabalistic attitude towards animal life, confirming that Kafka’s mystical life was largely shaped, not by Judaism, but by Christianized occultism.

Keywords: Kafka; vegetarianism; animal sacrifice; animal stories; naturopathy; synaesthesia; spiritual experience; mystical literature; nudism; fall of man; occult

Chapter.  11758 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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