Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka (1883–1924), writer and narrator, was the son of a Judeo-Czech family. He graduated law in 1907, and from 1908 until his early retirement (1922) due to tuberculosis he was employed in an insurance bureau, where he faced omnipotent bureaucratic mechanisms in modern society. As part of numerous therapies, he traveled to Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland.

Unlike other authors, of the the so-called Prague Circle (M. Brod, Oskar Baum, EE Kisch, F. Werfel, etc.), Kafka rarely published during his lifetime, moreover, in his will he demanded from his close friend M. Brod to burn his entire literary legacy, but Brod prepared and published the manuscripts. This is where the complex history of publishing Kafka's works begins: many of the editor's interventions in his legacy texts are being critically revised today.

During his lifetime, only a few collections of short stories and prose lines were published: Contemplation (Betrachtung, 1913), Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung, 1915), The Judgement (Das Urteil, 1916), In the Penal Colony (In der Strafkolonie, 1919), The Country Doctor (Ein Landarzt, 1919), A Hunger Artist (Ein Hungerkünstler, 1924), in which the leading themes and motifs of his prose come to the fore - the experience of isolation and failure, as well as transformation and animal metaphors. The most significant part of his opus was published posthumously; in addition to diaries and short stories, the greatest role is played by the novels: The Trial (Der Prozeß, 1914–1915, published in 1925), The Castle (Das Schloß, 1922, published in 1926), America (Der Verschollene - The Man Who Was Traced, 1912–1914, published in 1927), in which Kafka depicts the position of the individual in an illogical world, guided by dark and unknown mechanisms. Precisely because of a number of possible meanings, the theoretical literature on Kafka far exceeds the scope of his works.

Literary history places him close to German Expressionism and the grotesque tradition, and the existential endangerment of his world, which originates from E. A. Poe, F. M. Dostoevsky, and psychoanalysis, along with the philosophy of S. Kierkegaard.

Diaries (Tagebücher, 1937, 1951) and Letters (Briefe, 1937, 1958) provide insight into Kafka's worldview and specific religiosity, while autobiographical elements and a picture of difficult communication with the outside world are provided by the Letters to Milena (Briefe an Milena, 1952).