Language and paranoia: a response to J M Coetzee’s reading of Kafka’s The burrow

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English: This paper attempts an alternative reading of the temporal structure of Kafka’s last novella, The burrow, which was analysed by J M Coetzee in his essay ‘Time, tense and aspect in Kafka’s The burrow’. While Coetzee’s analysis has lost none of its cognitive value a quarter of a century after its first publication in 1981, a psychoanalytical reading of verbal aspect as a symptom of paranoia will be attempted here. I wish to suggest, further, that this paranoid structure is potentially to be found at the heart of all language and subjectification.