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Humanities 2017, 6(2), 26; doi:10.3390/h6020026

An Unheard, Inhuman Music: Narrative Voice and the Question of the Animal in Kafka’s “Josephine, the Singer or the Mouse Folk”

Department of Languages, Literature, and Communication, Utrecht University, Utrecht 3512 JK, The Netherlands
Academic Editor: Joela Jacobs
Received: 28 March 2017 / Revised: 25 April 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
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Abstract

In The Animal That Therefore I Am, Derrida wonders whether it would be possible to think of the discourse of the animal in musical terms, and if so, whether one could change the key, or the tone of the music, by inserting a “flat”—a “blue note” in other words. The task would be to render audible “an unheard language or music” that would be “somewhat inhuman” but a language nonetheless. This essay pursues this intriguing proposition by means of a reading Kafka’s “Josephine, the Singer or the Mouse Folk,” paying careful attention to the controversy regarding the status of Josephine’s vocalizations, which, moreover, is mirrored in the scientific discourse surrounding the ultrasonic songs of mice. What is at stake in rendering this inhuman music audible? And furthermore, how might we relate this debate to questions of narrative and above all to the concept of narrative “voice”? I explore these and related questions via a series of theoretical waypoints, including Paul Sheehan, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Luc Nancy, with a view to establishing some of the critical parameters of an “animal narratology,” and of zoopoetics more generally. View Full-Text
Keywords: narrative voice; inoperativity; singing mice; zoopoetics; anthropological machine; community; music narrative voice; inoperativity; singing mice; zoopoetics; anthropological machine; community; music
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Driscoll, K. An Unheard, Inhuman Music: Narrative Voice and the Question of the Animal in Kafka’s “Josephine, the Singer or the Mouse Folk”. Humanities 2017, 6, 26.

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