In this article, I consider Kafka's aphorisms in the light of a paradox undercutting the modernity they betoken. For 'modernity' denotes a macro-historical period associated with post-Enlightenment rationalism and, simultaneously, an ongoing process of flux and innovation. I hope to demonstrate that Kafka's aphorisms betray a general post-Enlightenment sensibility, consistent with the form's emergence out of scientific discourse, while nevertheless providing a unique literary voice to the author's specific historical context and cultural milieu. My study will focus upon a small selection of Kafka’s aphorisms and, through close analysis, will seek to demonstrate the form’s archetypically modern linguistic experimentalism. Through comparison with aphorisms by the eighteenth century writer, Georg Lichtenberg, I hope to underline both contiguities with and distances from Kafka. In so doing, I aim to highlight the manner in which Kafka’s aphorisms play out the tensions and interplay between their macro-historical, post-Enlightenment backdrop and the specific twentieth century, assimilated Jewish setting from which they emerged.
How to Cite: Fallowes, G . (2012) “Kafka's Aphorisms and the Paradox of Modernity”, Dandelion: Postgraduate Arts Journal and Research Network. 3(1). doi: 10.16995/ddl.254