“The light in the tunnel can be a train”. About Kafkaesque double thoughts

Karl Dahlstrand, Mikael Furugärde

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


In the title of Reza Banakar’s first internationally published book The Doorkeepers of the Law: A Socio-Legal Study of Ethnic Discrimination in Sweden (1998) his interest in Franz Kafka is already obvious. Much later, Banakar (2010) presented his view of Kafka's conception of law in his article In Search of Heimat: A Note on Franz Kafka's Concept of Law, and more recently, Banakar (2015) developed his reading of Kafka’s both existential and legal significance in the chapter A Note on Franz Kafka’s Concept of Law. In his readings of Kafka, it is striking how Banakar emphasizes the uncertainty and unpredictability of human conduct; Kafka’s ”writings highlight the role of uncertainty, insecurity, transience and the unknowable” (Banakar, 2015) in contrast to contemporaneous rationalistic modern theories (of the law). In particular, Banakar highlighted the fact that Kafka, both a practicing lawyer and a fiction writer, thinks “double thoughts”. This duality – living a double life as a lawyer and a writer – makes Kafka a central and natural figure of the Law and Literature Movement, particularly in the Law in Literature part of the movement.
This essay will highlight Banakar’s contribution to the Law and Literature Movement as a socio-legal scholar and reader of Franz Kafka, with special focus on his article In Search of Heimat: A Note on Franz Kafka's Concept of Law (2010). In the article, Banakar discusses both the novel The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925) and the parable Before the Law, contained in the same novel, in to the context of Kafka’s legal work as an insurance lawyer. In the essay we attempt to make a connection between the field of Law as Literature and Law and the Literature Movement. We do so by using narratives and literary techniques to give a testimony about a semi-fictional character who finds himself standing before the law. We will also pay attention to the fact that it is now 75 years since The Nuremberg trials took place 1945–1946. The Nuremberg trials have been described as the greatest trials in history and have greatly influenced the development of international criminal law as well as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the revival of natural law, and therefore also modern anti-discrimination laws.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationREMEMBERING REZA BANAKAR.
Subtitle of host publicationAnthology in memory of Reza Banakar
EditorsHåkan Hydén, Roger Cotterrell , David Nelken , Ulrike Schultz
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020 Dec 20

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Law and Society


Dive into the research topics of '“The light in the tunnel can be a train”. About Kafkaesque double thoughts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this