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In 1916, Kafka writes of The Sugar Baron, a dime-store colonial adventure novel, '[it] affects me so deeply that I feel it is about myself, or as if it were the book of rules for my life.' John Zilcosky reveals that this perhaps surprising statement - made by the Prague-bound poet of modern isolation - is part of a network of remarks that exemplify Kafka's ongoing preoccupation with popular travel writing, exoticism, and colonial fantasy. Taking this biographical peculiarity as a starting point, Kafka's Travels elegantly re-reads Kafka's major works (Amerika, The Trial, The Castle) through the lens of fin-de siecle travel culture. Making use of previously unexplored literary and cultural materials - travel diaries, train schedules, tour guides, adventure novels - Zilcosky argues that Kafka's uniquely modern metaphorics of alienation emerges out of the author's complex encounter with the utopian travel discourses of his day.
JOHN ZILCOSKY teaches German and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, Canada. He has published articles on Kafka, Schopenhauer, Paul Auster, Botho Strauss, and literary theory.