We are still debating whether Kafka should be considered as a tragic or nihilist author, a terrifyingly dark, sardonically bleak neurotic, or as a savvy comic writer with a taste for black humor. This quandary explains why I begin by wondering whether one can say that Kafka was “laughing out loud.”
Jean-Michel Rabaté is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, after having taught in Dijon, Paris, Montreal and Princeton. He is one of managing editors of the Journal of Modern Literature. He chairs the Forum for Philosophy and literature at the MLA. He is one of the founders of Slought Foundation, and a curator of exhibitions, conferences, lectures and conversations. He is since 2008 a fellow of American Academy of Arts and Science.
He has authored 25 books and edited 15 collections of essays. Recent titles include Crimes of the Future (Bloomsbury, 2014), The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and Psychoanalysis (Cambridge University Press, 2014), The Pathos of Distance (Bloomsbury, 2016), Think, Pig! (Fordham Universiy Press, 2016), Les Guerres de Jacques Derrida (Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 2016), and Rust (Bloomsbury, forthcoming), as well two forthcoming collections: After Derrida (Cambridge University Press) and The New Beckett (Cambridge University Press).