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Not a Room, but a Womb

The Birth Metaphors of Kafka’s ‘Das Urteil’

Jr. Hammond


Pages 61 - 79



In this article, the author argues for a reading of ‘Das Urteil’ as a series of (re)birth metaphors that simultaneously reflect, anticipate and enable the birth of Kafka the writer. The author ties the writing of this breakthrough short story, in large part, to Kafka’s relationship to his future fiancée, Felice Bauer, to whom he dedicated the piece. He also links the story to the ‘Brief an den Vater’, where Kafka states that fatherhood would result in a much longed-for state of parity between himself and the elder Kafka. Yet Kafka would never become a father. The author suggests that what Kafka regarded as his literary paternity served, therefore, as a kind of compensation for the biological paternity that he knew would never come to pass. In this way, ‘Das Urteil’ is, at once, both the product and progenitor of its author.

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