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The Yield is a once-in-a-generation reinterpretation of the oeuvre of Franz Kafka. At the same time, it is a powerful new entry in the debates about the supposed secularity of the modern age. Kafka is one of the most admired writers of the last century, but this book presents us with a Kafka that few will recognize. It does so through a fine-grained analysis of the three hundred posthumously published aphorisms, parables, and images the writer penned after the end of World War I, when he had just been diagnosed with tuberculosis.
The meaning of these so-called "Zürau fragments" has always been open to debate. Paul North's elucidation of what amounts to Kafka's only non-fictional work shows them to contain solutions to almost all the problems Europe had gotten itself into by that point, some of which have not gone away. Kafka offers answers to violence, discrimination, political repression, misunderstanding, ethnic hatred, fantasies of technological progress, and the subjugation of the contemporary worker, among other problems. Reflecting on secular modernity and the religious ideas that continue to determine it, he critiques the ideas of sin, suffering, the messiah, paradise, truth, the power of art, good will, and knowledge. Kafka's controversial alternative to the bad state of affairs in his day? Rather than fight it, give in. Developing some of Kafka's arguments, The Yield describes the ways that Kafka envisions we can do good by "yielding" to our situation instead of struggling against it in hopes of something better.
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