In 1916, Kafka writes of The Sugar Baron, a dime-store colonial adventure novel, "[it] affects me so deeply that I feel it is about myself, or as if it were the book of rules for my life." John Zilcosky reveals that this perhaps surprising statement-made by the sedentary, Prague-bound poet of modern isolation-is part of a network of remarks that exemplify Kafka's ongoing preoccupation with popular travel writing, exotic fantasy, and travel technology. Taking this biographical peculiarity as a starting point, Kafka's Travels elegantly re-reads Kafka's major works (Amerika, The Trial, In the Penal Colony, The Castle) through the lens of fin de siecle travel culture. Making use of previously unexplored literary and cultural materials-travel diaries, train schedules, tour guides, adventure novels-Zilcosky argues that Kafka's uniquely modern metaphorics of alienation emerge out of the author's complex encounter with the utopian travel discourses of his day. The book offers a lucid, readable introduction into Kafka's life and work, and sophisticated analysis of Kafka' s major writings in relation to contemporary literary theory.
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