Human and Corporate Bodies in Broch and Kafka

Stefan Andriopoulos

in Possessed

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780226020549
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226020570 | DOI:
Human and Corporate Bodies in Broch and Kafka

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This chapter turns back to narrative fiction. Tracing modernist literary representations of human and corporate bodies, it engages in a close reading of Hermann Broch's novel The Sleepwalkers (1928–32). The text appropriates medical notions of somnambulism while employing an increasingly depersonalized mode of narration that functions as a literary equivalent to legal and economic representations of corporate agency. Franz Kafka's novels The Castle (1922) and The Trial (1914–15), in turn, emphasize the somatic pressures exerted on K. through his dealings with an intangible “living” organization. By linking contemporary medical theories of neurasthenia to the description of bureaucratic “organisms,” Kafka's novels center on a merging of human and corporate bodies.

Keywords: narrative fiction; Hermann Broch; Sleepwalkers; somnambulism; corporate agency; Franz Kafka; Castle; Trial; neurasthenia; human bodies

Chapter.  11567 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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