Verwirklichung einer vollkommenen Glücksmöglichkeit/A perfect bliss-potential realized: “Wunsch, Indianer zu werden” im Lichte des Dao Kafkas übersetzend gelesen/Transreading “Wish, to Become Indian” in light of Kafka’s Dao
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionOrbis Litterarum. 2021, 76 (3), 101-121. 10.1111/oli.12289
Walking an unexplored path, Huiwen Helen Zhang contextualizes Kafka's pithy and cryptic parable, “Wish, to Become Indian” in his transplantation of Daoist philosophy—an astonishing cross-cultural enigma that Zhang terms “Kafka's Dao”—and parses it through a micro-level approach that Zhang terms “transreading.” Contextualizing “Wish, to Become Indian” in Kafka's dialogue with ancient Chinese philosophers such as Laozi, Liezi, and Zhuangzi enables the reader to comprehend a series of otherwise incomprehensible puzzles. Zhang's scrutiny of Kafka's Dao shows how, through creative writing, Kafka not only penetrates esoteric Daoist classics, but also furthers their spirit in a way that transcends Richard Wilhelm, the pioneer European Sinologist. Transreading “Wish, to Become Indian” illuminates nuances that otherwise might have been overlooked. Wordplay, punctuational oddity, syntactic complexity, lyric density, and the curiously interlaced tenses and cases are all part of the idiosyncratic delivery of Kafka's message. Integrating the four activities of transreading—lento reading demanded and enhanced by cultural hermeneutics, creative writing required and inspired by poetic translation—unravels Kafka's riddle as a historical-cultural phenomenon.