Franz Kafka quotes

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Franz Kafka

Birthdate: 3. July 1883
Date of death: 3. June 1924

Franz Kafka was a German-language novelist and short story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work, which fuses elements of realism and the fantastic, typically features isolated protagonists faced by bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible social-bureaucratic powers, and has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety, guilt, and absurdity. His best known works include "Die Verwandlung" , Der Process , and Das Schloss . The term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe situations like those in his writing.

Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today part of the Czech Republic. He trained as a lawyer, and after completing his legal education he was employed with an insurance company, forcing him to relegate writing to his spare time. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote hundreds of letters to family and close friends, including his father, with whom he had a strained and formal relationship. He became engaged to several women but never married. He died in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis.

Few of Kafka's works were published during his lifetime: the story collections Betrachtung and Ein Landarzt , and individual stories were published in literary magazines but received little public attention. Kafka's unfinished works, including his novels Der Process, Das Schloss and Amerika , were ordered by Kafka to be destroyed by his friend Max Brod, who nonetheless ignored his friend's direction and published them after Kafka's death. His work went on to influence a vast range of writers, critics, artists, and philosophers during the 20th century.

Works

The Trial
The Trial
Franz Kafka

„A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.“

—  Franz Kafka

Letter to Oskar Pollak http://www.languagehat.com/archives/001062.php (27 January 1904)
Variant translations:
If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? Good God, we also would be happy if we had no books and such books that make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us.
What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.
A book should be an ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us.
A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.
A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.
Variant: A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.
Context: I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?... we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.

„I am a cage, in search of a bird.“

—  Franz Kafka, book The Zürau Aphorisms

16
The Zürau Aphorisms (1917 - 1918)
Variant: A cage went in search of a bird.

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„I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.“

—  Franz Kafka

Variant: What I write is different from what I say, what I say is different from what I think, what I think is different from what I ought to think and so it goes further into the deepest darkness.

„By believing passionately in something which still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.“

—  Franz Kafka

Attributed to Kafka in Ambiguous Spaces (2008) by NaJa & deOstos (Nannette Jackowski and Ricardo de Ostos), p. 7, and a couple other publications since, this is actually from Report to Greco (1965) by Nikos Kazantzakis, p. 434
Misattributed

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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