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Franz Kafka

(1883 - 1924)

Franz Kafka was a Czech-born German-speaking writer, whose surreal and existential works are considered some of the most influential in Western literature. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kafka trained as a lawyer and worked for an insurance company, a job that allowed him time to write in the evenings and early mornings.

His writing, which includes novels, short stories, and letters, explores themes of alienation, existential dread, guilt, and the absurdity of modern life. Kafka's most notable works were published posthumously by his friend Max Brod, despite Kafka's instruction that they be destroyed. These include "The Metamorphosis" (1915), a haunting story of a man who wakes up transformed into a giant insect, "The Trial" (1925), where the protagonist faces an opaque and bureaucratic justice system, and "The Castle" (1926), a narrative exploring a relentless pursuit of unattainable goals.

Kafka's prose is marked by its precise, clear style and its capacity to create intense psychological scenarios. His influence stretches far beyond literature into philosophy, psychology, and the arts, helping to pioneer or anticipate movements such as existentialism, surrealism, and postmodernism. While his life was marked by personal struggles, including chronic illness and a complicated relationship with his authoritarian father, Kafka's legacy endures; his name has given rise to the term "Kafkaesque," describing situations akin to the nightmarish environments depicted in his work.

Short Stories member since March 2016