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Franz Kafka and the Poetry of Risk Insurance

Franz Kafka and the Poetry of Risk Insurance
1 Devonshire Place, Room 208N, Munk School of Global Affairs
Time: Dec 1st, 4:00 pm End: Dec 1st, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: Slavic Studies (FAS), German (FAS), Comparative Literature (FAS), 2000-
Talk by Stanley Corngold, Princeton University

The Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies and the Joint Initiative for German and European Studies presents

Franz Kafka and the Poetry of Risk Insurance

Kafka's stories allude to his culture with a fullness that is astonishing when one considers their economy of form. This work of allusion, a sort of movement through the cultural vehicles or media of his time, conforms to several logics. One such logic-the logic of risk insurance-comes from Kafka's daytime preoccupation with accident insurance. Between 1908 and 1922, Kafka, a Doctor of Laws, rose to a high-ranking position at the Workmen's Accident Insurance Institute for the Royal Imperial Kingdom of Austria-Hungary in Prague. Though ensconced in a semi-opaque bureaucracy, Kafka struggled to enforce compulsory universal accident insurance in the areas of construction, toy and textile manufacture, farms, and automobiles. Images from his work world, such as mutilation by machine, the perils of excavating in quarries while drunk, and the disappearance of the personal accident, penetrate such stories as "The Metamorphosis," The Trial, and "In the Penal Colony." This illustrated talk will discuss Kafka's life and literature, emphasizing Kafka's work world and his forms of thinking about risk.

Stanley Corngold is Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. In 2009, with Benno Wagner and Jack Greenberg, he edited, with commentary, Franz Kafka: the Office Writings. In 2010, he published, with Benno Wagner, Franz Kafka: The Ghosts in the Machine and edited, with Ruth V. Gross, a collection of essays titled Kafka for the Twenty-first Century. Since then he has edited, with his translation, a Modern Library edition of Kafka's The Metamorphosis, translated Goethe's The Sufferings of Young Werther, and completed an intellectual biography of the philosopher Walter Kaufmann. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, please contact Department of German


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