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The Work of Giorgio AgambenLaw, Literature, Life$
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Justin Clemens and Nicholas Heron

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748634620

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748634620.001.0001

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(p.13) Chapter 1 K
The Work of Giorgio Agamben

Giorgio Agamben

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter is an intervention into the interpretation of Franz Kafka's great novels The Trial and The Castle; implicitly, it constitutes a divided assault on the divisiveness of the law. In Roman law, slander (calumnia, in old Latin kalumnia) represented so serious a threat for the administration of justice that the false accuser was punished by the branding of the letter K (the initial of kalumniator) on his forehead. The gravity of slander is a function of its calling into question the principle itself of the trial: the moment of accusation. K.'s strategy can be defined with more precision as the failed attempt to render impossible, not the trial, but the confession. The profession of the protagonist of The Castle is addressed. The interpretation according to which K. wants to be accepted by the castle and settle in the village would then appear all the more mistaken.

Keywords:   Franz Kafka, The Trial, The Castle, kalumniator, slander, accusation, confession

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