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Hecht, M.B. (1952). Uncanniness, Yearning, and Franz Kafka's Works. Am. Imago, 9(1):45-55.

(1952). American Imago, 9(1):45-55

Uncanniness, Yearning, and Franz Kafka's Works

M. Bernard Hecht, M.D.


IT is surprising that of all the emotions which have been described as being evoked by the works of Franz Kafka the effect of the uncanny has been omitted; and yet it is this reaction that most clearly depicts the readers feelings. It is to substantiate this point and to shed light on the relationship between the feelings of uncanniness and yearning that this paper is directed.

In his paper, “The ‘Uncanny’”, Freud concluded that “an uncanny experience occurs either when repressed infantile complexes have been revived by some impression, or when primitive beliefs we have surmounted seem once more to be confirmed”. The occurrence of the uncanny as it appears in real life is evoked mostly by the first named circumstance, while the uncanny in fiction is created by both means.

Freud shows, in his discussion of the uncanny, as it appears in literature, that one source of its production lies in the following development of a work. “… the writer pretends to move in the world of common reality. In this case he accepts all the conditions operating to produce uncanny feelings in real life; and everything that would have an uncanny effect in real life has it in his story.

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