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Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 165

Amerika (the title appended by his friend and biographer Max Brod) is Kafka’s least overtly parabolic work and his most realistic fiction. It is, nevertheless, decidedly Kafkaesque in that it portrays a world both comically and tragically absurd, a reality at once solid and dreamlike through which the hero, or more properly the antihero, appears condemned to an endless and probably fruitless search for some stable identity, some final goal, some imperishable meaning that may or may not exist. Kafka’s world is like his fiction: incomplete and labyrinthine, a world and a text in which certainty is what hero and reader desire and ambiguity is what they receive. Above all, Amerika, like all Kafka’s stories and novels, is deeply autobiographical in its origins and implications. Still, the novel easily outstrips the limits of autobiographical and psychoanalytical interpretation. It is a text that does not so much describe and dramatize as evoke and unsettle, leaving the reader in endless confrontation with its enigma.

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