Franz Kafka’s literary achievements are all the more remarkable when one considers that he lived to be only forty, was increasingly ill with tuberculosis during the last seven years of his life, and up until two years before his death held a full-time position as a lawyer.
While his lifestyle was in keeping with that of his mother’s bachelor brothers, one of whom was a country doctor, Kafka and his father were very different in personality. The efforts of the robust, self-confident, and sometimes abusive businessman to rear a frail, insecure, and sensitive son led to a constant state of friction between the two. Unlike his younger sisters, who married and established families of their own, Kafka lived mainly with his parents, attempting always to relate to the father who could not understand him.
Kafka’s parents had a strong marriage but did not have much time for their children, who were cared for by household help. During the day, the parents worked together in their store. In the evening, the two of them played cards. Kafka did well in school, contrary to his fears, and received a good education, especially in Latin, from dedicated teachers.
In 1901, Kafka entered the German University in Prague and obtained his doctorate in law in 1906. He resigned from his first position, stating as his reason that he was upset by the cursing and swearing, even though it had not been directed at him. Through the intercession of a friend,...
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Despite the strange occurrences that animate Franz Kafka’s fiction, the events of his life are colorless and mundane. Like Emily Dickinson or Henry David Thoreau, however, Kafka could, by sheer imagination, transform the most ordinary life into fascinating reading. Tirelessly, he penned his impressions of his life, recording the nuances of his thoughts and actions in ethical and ontological terms.
Kafka was born on July 3, 1883, in Prague, Bohemia, into a bourgeois German-Jewish family. The Czechs of Kafka’s day felt oppressed by the Austrian-Germans and in turn oppressed the Jews, so from his earliest days Kafka was accustomed to the pain of a threefold prejudice—as non-Austrian, as non-Czech, and as a Jew. Franz...
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Franz Kafka (KAHF-kah) was born on July 3, 1883, in Prague (now in the Czech Republic), the first child born to Hermann and Julie Kafka. A second son died in infancy, leaving Franz as the only son, with three younger sisters. Kafka reacted negatively to his paternal forebears. His grandfather had been a butcher, something that Kafka found so repugnant that he became a vegetarian. His works contain descriptions of meat and wounds that reflect this revulsion. His father was in business and owned his own shop, and Kafka was bothered by his father’s gruff and insulting treatment of his employees. This recollection is perhaps reflected in Die Verwandlung (1915; The Metamorphosis, 1936), in Gregor Samsa’s...
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Franz Kafka is uncontestedly one of the strongest, most original literary voices of the twentieth century. His unpretentious prose, while seemingly rooted in the everyday, penetrates deeply into the reality of the human psyche. All rings true on the psychological level, bizarre though the scenes and circumstances of the narrative may be. Moral precepts shimmer in the distorting light of multiple interpretations, for the works are absolute and support many different interpretations.
Like dreams, Kafka’s writing is both fantastic and vividly entertaining and evokes powerful emotional responses ranging from fear to sustained laughter. He was unique, a sovereign artist, a writer for all time.
Franz Kafka (KAHF-kah) is one of the key figures in modern literature, the prophet of alienation, existential angst, Freudian guilt, and the tragicomic failure of the human quest for spiritual fulfillment. He was born in 1883 to a domineering father, Hermann Kafka, and an unassuming, introspective mother, whose maiden name was Julie Löwy and whose quiet inwardness he inherited. He resided until his thirty-first year with his parents and in the shadow of his father’s intimidating presence. Most of his literary achievements, despite their having become requisite to any study of twentieth century Western literature, are fragmentary and incomplete—like his life, one could say, which was marked by four inconclusive love affairs and...
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