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Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka is one of the most well-known writers of the 20th century. He was born on July 3, 1883 in Prague to Hermann and Julie Kafka. Franz’s family and social life had a great impact on his thinking and literary works. Some of his most prominent works include the Metamorphosis, the Trial and the Castle (Hornek, “Franz Kafka Photos writing”). Franz’s grandfather was a butcher in Wossek, a small Jewish village near Prague. Family’s financial condition was not very good and Franz’s father Hermann had to start earning at an early stage in life.

His job was to pull a cart and deliver kosher meat to distant places at any time of the year facing harsh climatic conditions at times. Keen to change his lifestyle Hermann joined army at nineteen and moved to Prague at thirty. He started a fancy-goods shop in the city. Soon he married Julie Lowy. Julie accompanied her husband at work. Franz was born in 1883 but his mother could not devote time to him due to her tight work schedule and a nurse used look after him. Within ten years of childhood Franz had experienced several phases of life. He lost his two brothers in infancy and family had changed home five times.

By 1892 he was blessed with three sisters. Franz’s relationship with his father was not very loving and comforting but rather strict and overburdened with expectations. His father always pushed him to achieve more than his ability and desire. His mother was also not very accommodating and was his father’s support. “. . . as a result his son’s feelings of love and awe were tangled up with the profound sense of being a disappointment. . . the affection he had for her [mother] was tempered by the rancor of an abandoned child” (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”). Pic. 1 Franz Kafka (Hornek, “Franz Kafka Photos writing”).

Franz went to the German National and Civic Elementary School as a child and later to the German National Humanistic Gymnasium for fifth grade and above. Schools were rigid and advocated cramming paying less attention to the understanding of concepts. Harsh and strict treatment at both home and school made Franz extremely pessimistic about his abilities. He passed his school in 1901 and enrolled in the German University in Prague. He studied law. Franz was inclined towards writing and reading from childhood. Beginning with writing plays for his sisters he started fiction writing in 1899.

His first novel ‘The Child and the City’ could not be completed. His next work was ‘Description of a Struggle’. It was not a perfect composition but lit the spark for future. Franz had a friend in university named Max Brod. Brod played a major role in Franz’s life as his friend and his support. Brod encouraged Franz to believe in his genius writing abilities and keep working in this direction. Franz owes his fame and recognition to his friend Brod. Franz had a short life and it was Brod who edited and published his works after his death that gained him popularity as a prominent writer (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”).

Franz started visiting brothels and having sex with shopgirls and waitresses. He had his first affair in Switzerland in 1905 with a woman older than him. He was on a vacation then. He had a conflicting relationship and mixed feelings for sexual desires and physical relationships. “Sex both compelled and disgusted Kafka. . . It was a crisis he would never resolve, and his various relationships all brought their share of confused impulses, frustrated desires, and sexual dissatisfactions” (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”). His literary works have a glimpse of this state of his mind (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”).

Franz completed his doctorate of law in 1906 and worked at the Assicurazioni Generali, an Italian insurance company for a year. He then switched to the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute. He was a dedicated worker and was often rewarded for his good work. Franz’s first work to be published was named ‘Meditation’, a compilation of eight short pieces published in Hyperion, a bimonthly magazine in 1908. His work presented his will to be free from a depressing city. His characters were often lost and wanted to be free. Franz maintained a diary and wrote his thoughts in it (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”).

Franz’s next work titled ‘The Man Who Disappeared’ later named ‘Der Verschollene to Amerika’ by Brod also had wandering characters. Franz was never satisfied and pleased with his writing until he wrote ‘The Judgment. ’ He was happy with his work this time. This piece could be seen as a representation of Franz’s relationship with his father. His father had started a new venture of asbestos business with his brother-in-law and wanted Franz to be a part of it. Similar is the situation depicted in the literary work. Franz was overburdened with work.

With the involvement of his mother his job was eased but his relationship with his father was not (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”). ‘The Metamorphosis’ was Franz’s next creative genius. It also presented some of the emotions and experiences of Franz’s life; his confusions and contradicting feelings and emotions towards different things and relationships in life. Franz favored marriage but he did not want to share his time for writing with his marital life. His next novel ‘The Trial’ was started while world was fighting the First World War. It presents the struggle of a young man with complex bureaucratic system.

This novel was not finished. Even uncompleted this work is significant for literature. Franz had been in many relationships with women but was just not willing to commit his life to anyone, so he did not marry any of his love interests (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”). In 1917, Franz suffered from tuberculosis. He took three weeks’ sick leave and went to his youngest sister, Ottla in Zurau. He visited many sanatoriums. He opted for nature cures over usual medicine. He did not have any bad habit of drinking or smoking. But his body did not get proper rest due to long sleepless nights devoted to writing.

He got back to his job in 1918. Unfortunately Spanish flu got hold of his health and he took leave from work once gain. After some time he wrote ‘Letter’ to his father. It was a long letter from a son to his father expressing his feelings and pain he had gone through his life owing to his father’s rigid behavior and imposed expectations. However this letter never reached his father. By 1920 Franz’s disease had spread to his lungs worsening his health, forcing him to take long and frequent leaves from job. In 1922 he had acute intestinal infection to make matters critical.

He started his next work “The Castle” in June 1922 and stopped in August (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”). In July 1923, he met Dora Diamant at a seaside resort of Muritz. She was 19 and lively. Both were attracted to each other. This affair grew and both went to Berlin to spend life together despite the opposition from both families. Franz’s health was declining and couple went short of funds. By the middle of 1924, Franz came back to his parents in Prague. His disease had reached a dangerous stage. He wrote his last work ‘Josephine the Mouse Singer’ in Prague.

Dora joined him few days later and the couple went to a sanatorium. He had severe pain in his throat due to tubercular lesions. His later works explore the relationship between the artist and society. All characters in his works are struggling for their identities or a place in relationships (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”). Franz Kafka died on June 3, 1924. He was forty. Death didn’t come easy and Franz had a very painful end. Both his father and mother were buried in the same grave after 10 years. Franz had left a letter to Max Brod asking him to burn all his works.

However Brod did not do anything like that and published each piece of his writing. His work has earned him fame and recognition in the literary world although all of this came after his death. His writings are a treasure for readers and modern literature (Nowak and Ruch “Kafka – Biography”). Works Cited Nowak, Jeff and Ruch, Allen B. “Kafka – Biography”. themodernword. com. 22 January 2004. Spiral-Bound, The Modern Word. 8 December 2008 <http://www. themodernword. com/kafka/kafka_biography. html> Hornek, Daniel. “Franz Kafka Photos writing”. kafka-franz. com. 8 December 2008 <http://www. kafka-franz. com/kafka. htm>

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