Kafka's Italian Progeny

Saskia Ziolkowski

University of Toronto Press 2020

While many scholars of world literature view national literary traditions as resolved and stable, Kafka’s Italian Progeny takes the fluid identity of the modern Italian tradition as an opportunity to reconsider its dimensions and influencers. Exploring a distinct but unexamined Kafkan tradition in modern Italian literature, it brings Italian literary works into larger debates and reorients the critical view of the Italian literary landscape. The book calls attention to the way Kafkan themes, narrative strategies, and formal experimentation appear in a range of Italian authors. Offering new perspectives on familiar figures, such as Italo Calvino, Italo Svevo, and Elena Ferrante, it also sheds light on some lesser-known authors, including Tommaso Landolfi, Paola Capriolo, and Lalla Romano.

Using diverse approaches to explore thematic, generic, historical, and cultural connections between Kafka’s works and those of Italian authors, the author argues for a new view of Italian literature that includes talking animals, parental bonds, modernist realism, literary detective novels, and lyrical microfiction. Whereas Kafka has been mobilized in discourses on minor and world literature, Kafka’s Italian Progeny investigates the particular nature of the Italian reception of Kafka to reveal the richness and variety of modern Italian literature.