The Mystical Life of Franz Kafka: Theosophy, Cabala, and the Modern Spiritual Revival

June O. Leavitt

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This book aims to show that the "Kafkaesque" in Franz Kafka may be immediate or residual impressions of the clairvoyance which Kafka admitted he suffered from: Those aspects of his writings in which the solid basis of human cognition totters, and objects are severed from physical referents, can be understood as mystical states of consciousness. However, this book also demonstrates how the age in which Kafka lived shaped his mystical states. Kafka lived during the modern Spiritual Revival, a powerful movement which resisted materialism, rejected the adulation of science and Darwin and idealized clairvoyant modes of consciousness. Key personalities who were Kafka's contemporaries encouraged the counterculture to seek the true essence of reality by inducing out-of-body experiences and producing spiritual visions through meditative techniques. Most importantly, they inspired the representation of altered perception in art and literature. Leaders of the Spiritual Revival also called for changes in lifestyle in order to help transform consciousness. Vegetarianism became essential to reach higher consciousness and to return humanity to its divine nature. It is no surprise that Kafka became a vegetarian and wrote several important narratives from an animal's point of view. Interweaving the occult discourse on clairvoyance, the divine nature of animal life, vegetarianism, the spiritual sources of dreams, and the eternal nature of the soul with Kafka's dream-chronicles, animal narratives, diaries, letters, and stories, this book takes the reader through the mystical textuality of a great psychic writer and through the fascinating epoch of the great Spiritual Revival.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Electronic)9780199919444
ISBN (Print)9780199827831
StatePublished - 19 Jan 2012


  • Altered states
  • Cabala
  • Clairvoyance
  • Freemasons
  • Kabbalah
  • Kafka
  • Kafka's stories
  • Mystical experience
  • Mystical imagination
  • Mystical literature
  • Mysticism
  • Mysticism of dreams
  • Naturopathy
  • Occult
  • Occultism
  • Out-of-body experience
  • Paranormal psychology
  • Prague
  • Spiritualism
  • Spirituality
  • Spirituality of dreams
  • Synaesthesia
  • Theosophy
  • Transcendental consciousness
  • Vegetarianism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)


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