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Chiasmi International

Volume 21, 2019

Merleau-Ponty, Literature, and Literary Language

Amy A. Foley
Pages 207-223

The Tension of Intention
Merleau-Ponty Gestures toward Kafka

This article examines Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s reference to Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” and “Investigations of a Dog” in his lecture on gesture and reconciliation, “Man Seen from the Outside.” Given the centrality of gesture in Kafka’s work, this essay considers the connections between the two figures and the likely influence of Kafka on Merleau-Ponty’s concept of gesture and intentionality. It compares their respective philosophies of gesture as they relate to meaning, reliability, silence, music, and intention. Finally, Kafka’s gestural motif of the springing body is suggested as a significant example of Merleau-Ponty’s “escaping intentions,” expressing a powerful will to intend toward others.

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