Transgressive Readings

The Texts of Franz Kafka and Max Planck
Valerie D. Greenberg
Argues for a critical awareness of language across the boundaries of disciplines


Transgressive Readings offers reading and a theory of reading of both literary and scientific texts on an equal basis and in relation to one another. Greenberg argues that literary and scientific discourses do not inhabit irreconcilable linguistic and epistemological systems, but rather can engage and interrogate one another both within and between texts. Her examination of this dialogue leads to insights that go beyond conventional notions of literary and scientific language. Through such "transgressive readings" the author offers new interpretations of scientific and literary texts that subvert the usual distinctions between these disciplines and reveal the affinities between them.

Greenberg demonstrates her thesis through an examination of nontechnical and technical texts by novelist Franz Kafka and German theoretical physicist Max Planck, originator of the theory of quantum mechanics. In the course of her argument, she marshals literary criticism and theory, linguistics, popular culture, history and philosophy of science, and mathematical and logical principles to develop a paradigm for interdisciplinary study.

Transgressive Readings argues for a critical awareness of language across disciplinary boundaries, and for the scientific and the literary aspects of a dialogue on knowledge. At issue are the nature of interpretation itself and the question of how to define and practice interdisciplinarity.

This study will appeal to literary scholars, critics, and theorists, as well as to intellectual historians and philosophers of science. It will be of special interest to those engaged in interdisciplinary studies and to the growing body of scholars exploring the critical intersection of literature and science.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . an impressive and well-researched book. . . . It manages to be both playful and scholarly, with a wealth of allusions to scientific theories, the sociology of knowledge, and theories of metaphor, as well as to specialized work on Planck and Kafka."
    --N. Katherine Hayles, University of Iowa

Look Inside


Introduction     I

1. Claret with Kafka and Planck, Watson and Holmes     9

2. Planck as Reader (Nietzsche)     47

3. The Trial in the Stone Quarry     89

4. Planck and His Readers---Kafkaesque?     135

5. A Canonical Texts and Its Subversion: Planck and Kafka in Concert     171

Coda: The Sign of the Four     197

Bibliography     205

Index     219

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 244pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1991
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10158-0

Add to Cart
  • $79.95 U.S.