“Imaginative Envisioning: Challenges in Rilke and Kafka”
Wednesday, 10 February 2016
16:00 Room 243, Senate House
To see or perceive visually is one thing; to introspectively imagine or ‘envision’ involves a distinct activity of consciousness, one of which accounts in philosophy have been divergent. I shall show how this distinction between seeing and envisioning, operative throughout the history of philosophy, is engaged in modern literature by Kafka and Rilke. Much recent scholarship has been dominated by visual perception as a central preoccupation in their works; but, as I shall show, both writers also consider the problem of envisioning in novel ways. Through depictions of window-gazing, daydreaming, and inward imagining, I will suggest, Rilke and Kafka contend thematically with the problem of the inner life and the imagination, and their relation to the world. This envisioning, I argue, is inseparable from, and should be taken into account when understanding, their respective poetics of vision, and may aid in our understanding of literary imagination as such.