Kafka and His Precursors  

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"The early Kafka of "Betrachtung is less a precursor of the Kafka of somber myths and atrocious institutions than is Browning or Lord Dunsany."[1]

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"Kafka y sus precursores" (”Kafka and His Precursors”) is an essay on Franz Kafka by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges collected in Other Inquisitions 1937-1952.

Borges lists six precursors to Kafka: Zeno's paradoxes of motion, Han Yu's reflections on the unicorn, Søren Kierkegaard's North Pole and counterfeiter parables, Robert Browning's poem "Fears and Scruples", Léon Bloy's story "The Captives of Longjumeau" and Lord Dunsany's "Carcassonne".

When Borges states that "the early Kafka of "Betrachtung is less a precursor of the Kafka of somber myths and atrocious institutions than is Browning or Lord Dunsany," he seems to imply that some writers are more Kafkaesque than Kafka.

The philosophical term "Borgesian conundrum" is named after Borges in connection with this essay.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Kafka and His Precursors" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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