Another Abraham
In his parable “Abraham,” Franz Kafka offers us a narrative wherein the
call that motivated Abraham to attempt to sacrifice his son Isaac was not
perceived by the famous Abraham alone but had many other, unintended
interlocutors— all of whom also happened to be named Abraham—as well.1
Kafka tells us that besides the “real Abraham”— that is, the one that we all
know about, someone who “already had every thing, and yet was to be raised
still higher”— there is “another Abraham [“einen anderen Abraham”]” or
possibly even several other Abrahams.2 One such other Abraham, Kafka
tells us, “was prepared to satisfy the demand for a sacrifice immediately,
with the promptness of a waiter, but was unable to bring it off because he
could not get away, being indispensable; the household needed him, there
was perpetually something or other to put in order.”3 For yet other Abra-
hams, “it is pos si ble that they did not even have a son, yet already had to
sacrifice him.”4 Whether the call to Abraham was ever intended for these
other Abrahams or not, they do not ultimately respond; Kafka writes of
introduction
Unsummoned! When the Call Is Not Meant for You
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