Definitions

Kafkaesque

Kafkaesque

[kahf-kuh-esk]
"Kafkaesque" is an auctorial descriptive which is used to describe concepts, situations, and ideas which are reminiscent of the literary work of Prague writer Franz Kafka, particularly his novels The Trial, The Castle and The Metamorphosis.

The term, which is quite fluid in definition, has also been described as "marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity: Kafkaesque bureaucracies" and "marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger: Kafkaesque fantasies of the impassive interrogation, the false trial, the confiscated passport ... haunt his innocence" — The New Yorker.

It can also describe an intentional distortion of reality by powerful but anonymous bureaucrats. "Lack of evidence is treated as a pesky inconvenience, to be circumvented by such Kafkaesque means as depositing unproven allegations into sealed files ..." Another definition would be an existentialist state of ever-elusive freedom while existing under unmitigatable control.

The adjective refers to anything suggestive of Kafka, especially his nightmarish type of narration, in which characters lack a clear course of action, the ability to see beyond immediate events, and the possibility of escape. The term's meaning has transcended the literary realm to apply to real-life occurrences and situations that are incomprehensibly complex, bizarre, or illogical.

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