"Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly."

Happy birthday Franz Kafka!

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Franz Kafka (July 3, 1883—June 3, 1924) was a German-language author of novels and short stories. His writing if often considered existentialist, dealing with alienation, bureaucracy, physical brutality, and illogic. His best known works include The Metamorphosis, The Trial, Amerika, and A Hunger Artist.

 

 "I am a cage, in search of a bird."

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Kafka was born in Prague, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Hermann Kafka and Julie Kafka. His family was of German Jewish ancestry. His father was a relatively successful retailer of men and women's fancy goods, and Kafka wrote that he was "a true Kafka in strength, health, appetite, loudness of voice, eloquence, self-satisfaction, worldly dominance, endurance, presence of mind, [and] knowledge of human nature..."His father's presence had a large effect on his writing. His mother was more quiet and shy, but better educated than Hermann Kafka. Kafka was the first of six children. His two brothers died in infancy and his three sisters all perished in the Holocaust of World War II after his own death.

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Kafka spoke German as his first language, but also spoke Czech and some French. He attended the Charles University of Prague, first studying chemistry but quickly switching to law. He joined a literary club called Lese und Redehalle der Deutschen Studenten. While at university, he met his close friends Max Brod and Felix Weltsch.

Kafka had a cool demeanor characterized by a dry sense of humor. He struggled from social anxiety and depression throughout his life.

In 1904, he wrote Beschreibung eines Kampfes (Description of a Struggle), which was later published in pieces over the course of 1908 and 1909 in the literary journal Hyperion.

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Statue by Jaroslav Róna, based on Franz Kafka's 'Descriptions of A Struggle'

After graduating in 1906, he worked for a year at Italian insurance company called Assicurazioni Generali. He worked the night shift, finding it difficult to focus on his writing. He resigned in 1908 and began working for another insurance company called Worker's Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia.

In 1911, his brother-in-law proposed Kafka go into business with him at an asbestos factory. Around this time, Kafka took a more serious interest in his Jewish heritage, frequenting performances of Yiddish theater.

Kafka had a relationship with Felice Bauer from 1912-1917. The two corresponded regularly, but only met twice. Later, he met Czech journalist and writer Milena Jesenská, and the two developed a serious relationship. It was during his relationship with Bauer that he wrote Das Urteil (The Judgment), all in one night in 1912. That same year, he wrote Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), perhaps his most famous work. It was published in 1915.

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In 1923, Kafka moved to Berlin to focus on his writing. There, he lived with Dora Diamant, a kindergarten teacher. The two were lovers, and she encouraged his interest in Judaism. While in Berlin, he worked on a collection of four stories called Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist).

Kafka also wrote several novels, his most famous being Amerika. When he wrote it, Kafka named it Der Verschollene (The Man Who Disappeared), but it was later renamed.

Kafka began feeling symptoms of tuberculosis in 1917, and he died in 1924.

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"Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one's own self."

― Franz Kafka

"Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly."

― Franz Kafka

"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us."

― Franz Kafka

"All language is but a poor translation."

― Franz Kafka

"I am a cage, in search of a bird."

― Franz Kafka

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Thursday, 03 July 2014
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