Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Journal of Literary History and Theory
Peer-reviewed Academic Journal


Zherebin A.I.

Aleksei I. Zherebin, DSc in Philology, Professor, Russian State Pedagogical University, Moika River Embankment, 48, 191186, St Petersburg, Russia. ORCID ID:


In memory of Nina S. Pavlova. The article clarifies the function of legal discourse in the semantic space of Franz Kafka’s novel “Der Prozess”. Kafka’s conflict of freedom and law is explored in relation to the legal debate in German science at the beginning of the twentieth century. The topic of the discussion was the opposition of two concepts: the theory of the so-called “pure law”, which put forward the principle of normativism as a legal form of positivist philosophy and the idealistic doctrine of “free law”, which, while continuing to seek support in educational and romantic anthropology, ultimately went back to the theological concept of the divine “lex aeterna”. The author proves that the story of Josef K., his desperate search for the meaning of the process and unsuccessful attempts at self-justification can be read as the story of the debunking of the theory of legal normativism, and in a broader sense, as the story of the destruction of the positivist picture of the world, collapsing under the onslaught of the metaphysical forces of existence, under the pressure of another, transcendental reality.


Franz Kafka; legal novel; double plot; model of the world; ideological structure; discourse; neo-mythological novel; modernism.





For citation

Zherebin, A.I. “Franz Kafka’s Legal Novel”. Literaturovedcheskii zhurnal, no. 2(64), 2024, pp. 9–28. (In Russ.)

DOI: 10.31249/litzhur/2024.64.01


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