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Franz Kafka

Anna Priddy and


Will Willis
Overview

● born July 3, 1883 in Prague


● Middle-class Jewish Family
● Studied law at the University of Prague
○ worked in insurance and wrote in the evenings
● 1923 - moved to Berlin to focus on writing
○ died of tuberculosis shortly after
● Max Brod (friend) published most of his work
posthumously
○ Amerika and The Castle
Early Years
● Two younger brothers died in infancy
○ Franz was the only son in a family with three daughters
● Difficult relationship with both parents
○ mother did not have intellectual depth to understands
son’s dreams of writing
○ father had a forceful personality that he brought home
● Father was a tyrant with a “wicked temper”, did
not appreciate creativity
○ translated into Kafka’s literature
○ characters rose up against an overbearing power
● Kafka attributed personal struggles (in romance
and relationships) to complicated relationship
with father
Education and Work
● intelligent child
● attended the Altstädter Staatsgymnasium, an exacting
high school for the academic elite
● had trouble with discipline
● enrolled at Charles Ferdinand University of Prague
○ intended to study chemistry but after just two weeks switched to law
● completed law degree in 1906, spent a year as an unpaid
law clerk
● First job at an Italian insurance agency
● Terrible job, but the job and his employers suited him
○ he worked hard and was quickly promoted
Love and Health
● Sociable at work, but personal life was complicated
● Engaged twice to Felice Bauer (finally parted ways
in 1917)
● Later fell in love with Dora Dymant
○ both were Jewish
● relationship centered on Kafka’s illnesses
○ strain and stress causes migranes, boils, depression, anxiety,
insomnia
● Kafka and Dora returned to Prague
● Went to Vienna for tuberculosis treatment but died
on June 3, 1924
Writing von Kafka
● gained fame after his death
● 1913: Betrachtung
○ collection of short stories
● 1915: “Vor dem Gesetz”
● Continued to write even with declining
health ● 1919: “In der Strafkolonie”
● 1915: “Die Verwandlung” and “Ein Landarzt”
○ most popular and best selling short story ● 1924: Ein Hungerkünstler
● 1916: “The Judgment” ○ four short stories, concise and
○ spoke directly about his relationship with his lucid style that is common of
father his later writing
Published by Brod
● Kafka requested that Brod destroy any
unpublished manuscripts but he did not
abide
● 1925: Der Proceß
○ dark, paranoid tale that was Kafka’s most
successful novel
● 1926: Das Schloss
● 1927: Amerika (Der Verschollene)
○ also undertones of father issues
○ also spoke to Kafka’s love of travel books and
memoirs
Fragen?

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