Twice Read Love Letters: The Ambiguities of Epistolary Violence in Fontane and Kafka

Barbara Natalie Nagel
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich
January 22, 2014
3:30 – 5:00 pm
205 East Pyne

Why would one want to compare Fontane, the author of well-tempered portraits of 19th century’s social life, with Kafka, creator of shrill 20th century grotesque? Because both Fontane and Kafka touch where it hurts. In my talk, I would like to analyze moments of ambiguous aggression that occur in Fontane and Kafka’s respective love letters; here Fontane becomes Kafka’s epistolary alter ego. The seemingly trifling love letter turns into a battleground, characterized by a violence that is all the more insidious for its latency and belatedness.