Franz Kafka

Early Life

Franz Kafka was born on the 3rd of July in 1881 in Prague, Bohemia. He was a brilliant son of Herman Kafka, a fashion retailer, while his mother, Julie, was the daughter of the retail merchant. He belonged to a middle-class Jewish family. During his childhood, a tragedy hit his family when his two brothers died during infancy. He shared a strained relationship with his parents, who did not support him in his intent to become a writer. However, his father’s influential behavior and forceful personality left a deep imprint on his mind. Franz, later, used his father’s character in his fictionalized works. His father died in 1931, and his mother passed away in 1934.

Education

Franz Kafka, a great literary figure, started his educational career in 1889 from Deutsche Knabenschule elementary school, followed by Altstädter Deutsches Gymnasium, a secondary school in 1893. There German was the academic language, but Kafka also used Czech for speaking and writing purposes. Later, in 1901, he joined the Deutsche Karl-Ferdinands-Universität of Prague, where he chose law, German studies, and law history. He also joined the student club and took part in various literary and reading events. He completed his law degree in 1906 and worked as a law clerk for a year for criminal and civil courts. Later, in 1907, he joined an insurance company but soon left to pursue his literary career.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. Franz Kafka, an enigmatic literary figure, wanted his unpublished writings burned, but his friend, Max Brod, published his works after his death.
  2. The term “Kafkaesque” is used to interpret the situations and concepts reminiscent of his writings.
  3. He died on the 3rd of June in 1924 in Kierling, Austria, after suffering from laryngeal tuberculosis.

His Career

He successfully pursued two careers in life. First, he worked as a clerk and later became a writer. His jobs with Italian Insurance Company and Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute did not excite him because they interrupted his time to work on writing. Despite that strict routine, he produced some literary pieces but never published them. Later, in 1908, he joined The Workman’s Compensation Division, a post he held until his retirement in 1922. While working with this staff, he sighted the underprivileged workmen and their suffering. He later documented in his initial published works, Conversation with a Beggar and Conversation with a Drunkard, that appeared on paper in 1909.

Narrating the dominating father’s strict judgment on his guilt-haunted son, he wrote his next story, “The Verdict” in 1912, in just one night followed by his first collection of stories, Contemplation in 1913. The representation of the world of psychotic delusion affected by the external events in “The Metamorphosis” made him a distinguished figure among the literary canons. Moreover, in 1914, he published a novella, In the Penal Colony, and in 1919, he dedicated his collection, The Country Doctor, to his father. One of his most notable works includes his letter to his father, which speaks about the sense of satisfaction he feels being free from the realm of the authoritative father. Besides short fiction, he also produced some outstanding novels including Amerika, The Castle and The Trial.

His Style

After establishing his career first as a clerk and then as a writer, his imaginative ideas brought variety to the world of letters. Marked by allusive imagery, symbolic structures, hyperbole, metaphors, sound devices, and irony, his works won global recognition. In his works, The Metamorphosis and “The Hunger Artist,” he artistically portrays the vigorous haul of the outsiders, which makes the sensitive souls fall into psychotic delusion. His works successfully reflect the negative impacts of dominance. His writings ruthlessly steal the positivity and creative power of mankind, leaving them in a state of despair. His imaginative, humanist approach, along with his personal experiences, allowed him to present his unique and thoughtful ideas in his masterpieces. The recurring themes in most of his poems are loss of identity, social isolation, transformation, and absurdity of life.

Franz Kafka’s Famous Works

  • Best Short Stories: He was an outstanding literary genius. Some of his famous stories include: “The Hunger Artist”, “The Rejection”, “The Way Home”, “Unhappiness”, “The Metamorphosis”, “The Bridge” and “An Old Manuscript.”
  • Best Novels: Besides poetry, he tried his hands on novels, some of his famous novels include Amerika, The Trial, and The Castle.

Franz Kafka’s Impact on Future Literature

Franz Kafka resonates throughout history as one of the leading icons of the 20th century in the literary world. Being a surrealistic author, he tried to transmit his sensibility to the world.  His distinctive writing approach and unique way of expression made him stand among the best writers. He also used the power of words to convey the images coming directly from his soul. A deliberate detachment from the world full of fantasies marks the center of most of his works. Instead of portraying the glittery side of the world, he focused primarily on the factors which direct our lives to the path of absurdity. His thoughtful ideas influenced many great authors, writers, philosophers, and critics. He successfully documented his ideas and feelings in his writings that even today, many writers try to imitate his unique style.

Famous Quotes

  1. “It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.”
    (The Trial)
  2. “I can’t think of any greater happiness than to be with you all the time, without interruption, endlessly, even though I feel that here in this world there’s no undisturbed place for our love, neither in the village nor anywhere else; and I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with clamps, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us anymore.” (The Castle)
  3. “I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.” (The Metamorphosis)

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