Cordula's Web. Monsieur K. The Praha Castle. The old castle often loomed in K's dreams. Gerard Bertrand.
Le Château à Prague. Copyright © 2005 Gerard Bertrand. All rights reserved. Gallery 24

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka (July 3, 1883 - June 3, 1924), was a novelist who was born and lived in Prague, Bohemia, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is by English speakers generally considered neither a Czech author, since he wrote exclusively in German, nor a German author since he spent almost his entire life in Bohemia.

Kafka's Works

Kafka's writing is noted for its dark tone, language, and themes of alienation and persecution. His most famous works include the short stories The Metamorphosis, A Hunger Artist, and novels The Trial, Amerika, and The Castle.


Kafka was born July 3, 1883, into a middle class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague. His father was the Galanteriewaren merchant Hermann Kafka (1852-1931) and his mother was Julie Kafka, née Löwy (1856-1934). He learned Czech as a child, and spoke it fluently throughout his life. From 1889 to 1893, Franz Kafka attended the Deutsche Knabenschule at Fleischmarkt in Prague and finished his Abitur in 1901. He went on to study law, and obtained his law degree in 1906, then worked for an insurance agency. He began writing on the side. In 1917 he began to suffer from tuberculosis, which would require frequent convalescence during which he was supported by his family.

Kafka's relationship with his domineering father is an important theme in his writing. In 1923 he briefly moved to Berlin in the hope of distancing himself from his family's influence to concentrate on his writing. His tuberculosis worsened; he returned to Prague, then went to a sanatorium near Vienna for treatment, where he died on June 3, 1924. His body was brought back to Prague where he was buried June 11, 1924 in the New Jewish Cemetery in Prague-Zizkov.

Kafka published only a few short stories during his lifetime, a small part of his work, and consequently his writing attracted little attention until after his death. Before dying, he instructed his friend and literary executor Max Brod, to destroy all of his manuscripts and ensure that they never saw the light of day. His lover Dora Dymant faithfully destroyed the manuscripts that she had, but Brod did not follow Kafka's instructions and oversaw the publication of most of his work, which soon began to attract attention and critical regard. All his published works were written in German.

Kafka in Film and Cinema
  • A film in which Jeremy Irons stars as the eponymous author was released in 1991. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the movie mixes his life and fiction providing a semi-biographical presentation of Kafka's life and works. The story concerns Kafka investigating the disappearance of one of his work colleagues. The plot takes Kafka through many of the writer's own works, most notably The Castle and The Trial.
  • Franz Kafka's 'It's a Wonderful Life' (1993) is a short film written and directed by Peter Capaldi and starring Richard E. Grant as Kafka. The film blends Metamorphosis with Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life with extremely amusing results.
Short Stories
  • Das Urteil ( - 1913)
  • Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung - 1915)
  • The Penal Colony (In der Strafkolonie - 1919)
  • Ein Landarzt ( - 1920)
  • A Hunger Artist (Ein Hungerkünstler - 1924)
  • The Trial (Der Proceß - 1925)
  • The Castle (Das Schloß - 1926)
  • America (Amerika - 1927)
  • Josephine

This biography was taken verbatim from the Wikipedia. We're providing a snapshot just in case the Wikipedia servers were temporarily unreacheable. The original page is not only much more up-to-date, it also features links to other pages and sites. This snapshot was last updated: 08/07/2004. (mm/dd/yyyy)

Home :: Authors :: Franz Kafka