Published Humanitas, Volume XVII, Nos. 1 and 2, 2004

Literary critics often point out that Franz Kafka’s posthumous, un-finished novel The Castle (Das Schloss, 1926) tells the story of the novel’s main character, simply called K., in pursuit of salvation. The novel’s aesthetic and interpretive complexity, it will be seen, underlines the multi-layered meaning of salvation itself, in a modern world in which salvation is not necessarily one of divine grace, of deliverance from sin and damnation, in short, of redemption in the hands of an all-powerful God.

A non-Christian and a German-speaking Jew born in Prague in l883, Kafka, though intuitively aware of salvation in its metaphysical tensions, relegates those tensions to their modern settings and circumstances, with their inherently existential anxieties, concerns, antinomies. Hence, in The Castle, K. is hardly a protagonist seeking entrance into God’s divine kingdom since his aspirations are not essentially soteriological in nature, but are at once more modest and yet consuming in character, and appropriate to the stark, cruel realities of a modern world with its imperium of illusions and. deceptions.

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