Forum Scientiarum

Franz Kafka’s “Real” World: Dream or Nightmare?

My presentation brings some examples of the fundamental dichotomy in Kafka's writings (beginning with 'Up in the Gallery') between the reality and aspirations of human existence and their self-destructive contrast – often presented in quite imaginative images against the background of religious concepts – without any higher concept of self-realisation: There are no 'happy endings' in Kafka's work!

Prof. Dr. Lawrence Ryan

Born in Sydney, Australia, I first completed a BA degree at the University of Sydney, majoring in German literature, then took up further study at the University of Tübingen (for part of the time with the assistance of a Humboldt Fellowship), where I attained the Dr.phil. with a thesis on Friedrich Hölderlin, whose work has become the main subject of my research and publications. After returning briefly to Sydney, I moved to the United States, taking up a professorship at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, where I remained until my retirement, also teaching for a number of visiting semesters at various German universities. Upon retirement I moved back to the University of Tübingen in the capacity of Honorary Professor.

Hölderlin has remained the main subject of my research, as in my book publications –Hölderlins Lehre vom Wechsel der Töne and Hölderlins 'Hyperion'. Exzentrische Bahn und Dichterberuf – which concentrate on the relationship of poetry to the philosophical thinking of the time. I have written further articles on Hölderlin, also on Kleist, Rilke, Goethe and Kafka.