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Topics in Modernism: Joyce, Beckett, Kafka

ENGL 210.601
instructor(s):
W 4:30-7:10

In this course we shall explore certain intriguing affinities between three great modern writers.  Though Joyce and Kafka were essentially unaware of each other, there are parallels between their works.  We shall ask ourselves to what extent these literary echoes reflect the comparable cultural quandaries of anglicized Dublin intellectuals and assimilated Central European Jews. In Beckett's case, the possibility of direct influence arises, since the Irish writer read several works by the Prague Jew. However, our main objective in reading Kafka and Beckett in tandem is to appreciate common  qualities--such as a wry sense of humor--in two writers who are often seen only as purveyors of gloom and doom.  Among the works we shall read are Joyce's The Dead and Portrait of the Artist, Beckett's Watt and Waiting for Godot, Kafka's The Judgement and The Castle (in a new English translation by the instructor).