ABSTRACT

Walter Benjamin is interested in the motif of the miscreant, the “Missetäter,” in art and literature. This miscreance exercises a justice that surpasses conclusiveness. The justice of literature is, according to Benjamin's writings on Franz Kafka, its attentiveness to what otherwise would simply be condemned or disregarded. This exercise of study is the miscreant justice of literature. Benjamin has difficulties with the notion, urged upon him by his friend Gershom Scholem, that the exercise of study in Kafka's literature is guided by a law of law—Halakhah—and by a correlative teaching. Benjamin tends to suggest that the principal force of Kafka's literature is a miscreant Vorwelt—the physically felt “world” before any humanly constituted world. This Vorwelt knows no law and barely, if at all, indulges notions of a teaching. It exercises rather the miscreant justice of preserving ignorance that impels study against claims to know already the way.

You do not currently have access to this content.