Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Kafka's The castle
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This paper explores two of Michel de Certeau’s key concepts, "the scriptural economy" and the "celibate machines" (or "bachelor machines") that seek to subvert this system. De Certeau frequently cites Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe as the quintessential work of the scriptural economy and it is my contention that Franz Kafka’s The Castle can be viewed as an example par excellence of a celibate machine. I compare these two works by examining the different ways in which they approach the three aspects of writing, defined by de Certeau as: the blank page, the text, and the goal of social efficacy. Ultimately, Kafka’s novel successfully undermines the hegemonic, masculine authority of scriptural practice that one finds in Defoe’s text, but in doing so, traps its characters in its circular, celibate process.