13 October 2016
Dr. Alfie Bown, Hang Seng Management College
Retroactive Jokes: Kafka's Literary Laughter



This paper discusses the relationship between literature and laughter, focusing not so much on representations of laughter nor on the role of laughter in literature, but on whether there may be a literary quality to laughter itself. Using examples from Kafka’s letters to his fiancé Felice Bauer, the paper explores the retroactive power of laughter to transform its own past and present. This retroactive power that laughter has troubles the assumption that laughter is merely an effect and upsets the temporal relationship between laughter and the things we laugh at. In suggests a unique connection between laughter and literature on this basis.



Last updated: 11 October 2016