The sovereignty that Georges Bataille wanted to implement and to theorize obeys a strange logic. He tried twice: first in 1942, next in the impossible book that was meant to serve as the final volume of his second, projected summa, The Accursed Share. Sovereignty implies an experience, but the experience it implies is one that cannot bear witness to itself. Sovereignty must leave an institutional record; at the same time, sovereignty calls for apocalyptic thinking. In each case, sovereignty can only pronounce itself through a “catastrophe,” and, likewise in each case, sovereignty is obliged to summon the figure of the “last man.” This logic needs to be reconstructed. We need to go back to where Bataille left off. We must understand the terrible obstacle that he ran into along the way. Bataille was on the brink of entering virgin territory, that of the survivor. And, because Bataille stopped precisely where he proposed to write about Franz Kafka, the present article announces and introduces an attempt to situate Kafka in the (European) history of sovereignty.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).