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Franz Kafka Biography

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Stories of Franz Kafka Author/Context

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

Franz Kafka was born in Prague, Bohemia on July 3, 1883 to middle class Jewish parents. As the son of an overbearing shopkeeper, Franz felt constantly inadequate and alienated from his family, themes that would later appear in his work. He constantly lived to seek approval from his father, who owned a haberdashery shop, and perpetually offered obstacles in young Franz's life - in terms of careers and relationships. In 1908, Kafka graduated from the renowned German High School in Prague with a degree in Law, a field which would guarantee him more financial security than previously thought. Yet despite his impending legal career, literature always remained in his heart, and he found a perfect writing niche with other German voices such as Franz Werfel, Martin Buber, and Max Brod.

During his prosperous youth, Franz Kafka was never known as a writer. He did, however, produce a substantial body of literature that will forever remain some of the most influential writing of the 20th century. Such works include: Meditation, The Judgment, The Trial, The Castle, Amerika, The Metamorphosis, Penal Colony, The Country Doctor, and A Fasting-artist. Most of his novellas and short stories consist of the perpetual themes of solidarity and isolation.

The Metamorphosis remains Kafka's most well-known work, studied in high schools and universities across the United States and Europe. It is a harrowing study at human psychology and isolation within a family, society, and one's self.

Kafka died in 1924 at the early age of forty-one after suffering from Tuberculosis for nearly eight years. He contracted the disease in 1917 and was forced to retire from his work in 1922, passing his time from sanatoriums to health resorts. He entrusted his close friend Max Brod with his writings before his death with the promise that he would destroy them. Fortunately Brod denied Kafka his final wish and gave the world the immortal gift of his voice.

Bibliography

Kafka, Franz. Trans. Malcolm Pasley. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. Penguin Books, New York: 2000.

Kafka, Franz. Trans. Stanley Corngold. The Metamorphosis. Bantam Books, New York: 1972.

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