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Franz Kafka - biography, doll story, fun facts, quotes, and sayings

Franz Kafka, Biography, Doll Story, Fun Facts, Quotes - Empowerment Coaching Krakow

Franz Kafka is a German-speaking writer of Jewish origin who has been associated with Prague throughout his life. Let us introduce you to his life by presenting the lost doll story. There are many versions of the story. All of them are beautiful, simple, and touching. People are invariably moved when they hear how Franz Kafka helped a desperate little girl.

At 40, Kafka (1883-1924), who had never married and had no children, was walking in a park in Berlin. At one point, he met a little crying girl because she had lost her favorite doll. They both agreed to look for the doll. Unfortunately, with no success. So they parted to meet again and continue the search for the lost doll the day after.

Franz Kafka - Doll Story

The next day, at the very beginning of the meeting, Kafka handed the girl a letter "written" by a doll: "Please don't cry. I went on a trip to see the world. I will write you about my adventures ... "

This is how the story that lasted until the end of Kafka's life began.

During their meetings, Kafka read to the girl carefully written letters from the doll. They were full of adventures and stories that the girl listened to with bated breath each time.

Eventually, Kafka brought a doll (which he had bought himself) to the meeting, claiming that it had just returned to Berlin.

"It doesn't look like my doll at all," said the girl.

Kafka then handed her another letter in which the doll wrote: "My travels have changed me." The girl hugged the new doll and happily took it home with her.

A year later, Kafka died at the age of 41.

Years later, an adult girl found a letter in the doll. The tiny letter signed by Kafka included the following words:

"Everything you love is likely to be lost, but in the end, love will return in a different form."

Accept the change. It is inevitable for growth. We can turn pain into a miracle and love, but it requires consciously and intentionally creating this connection.

Franz Kafka Doll Story - Empowerment Coaching Krakow
Art: Isabel TORNER (2014)


Franz Kafka - literary genius

Kafka's influence was so significant and permanent that the terms "Kafka style" or "Kafka situation" exist independently in several languages.

He created a model of a circumstance called the Kafkaesque situation. It refers to absurd, burdensome, and annoying situations, the essence of which is the conflict of an enslaved individual with a superior authority. Moreover, in his works, Kafka presents an alienated, lonely man, separated from others, struggling with the system and himself.

Kafka's writings became famous in German-speaking countries after World War II, influencing their literature. Then, the influence spread to the world in the 1960s, including artists, composers, and philosophers.

He was one of those writers who could create a literary world with an inimitable atmosphere. Full of unique, ambiguous codes and symbols. A constant sense of threat and uncertainty constitutes the panorama of Kafka's great works.

He left behind a personal diary (which he kept since 1910), many short stories, a few novels, and a theater play. His best-known works are The Trial, The Metamorphosis, and The Castle. He also left beautiful testimonies in the form of letters, including to his sister Ottla, his best friend Max Brod, and his beloved Felice Bauer.

Franz Kafka - a Short Biography and Interesting Fun Facts

Writer Franz Kafka was born in Prague on July 3, 1883, into a Jewish middle-class family. His father, Hermann Kafka, was a Jewish merchant, and his mother was Julia Löwy. His father came from a simple, impoverished family and achieved wealth thanks to his hard work. On the other hand, his mother came from an educated and wealthy family. Her father was a brewer and cloth merchant.

His father was a hard, impulsive, and despotic man. In harsh words, he regularly reminded his children and employees of the good life he had provided for all. The mother always remained in the background. They ran a haberdashery shop.

A complicated relationship with his father influenced Franz's entire life. In a heart-moving letter from 1919, Kafka tries to come to terms with this topic. It is a cry of despair from a son who feels dominated by his father. The son who loves and hates at the same time. A 60-page booklet is being created under the title "Letter to the Father" in which Franz Kafka writes, among other things:

"Dearest father. You recently asked me why I claim to be afraid of you. As usual, I didn't know what to answer, partly because of the fear I feel towards you, and partly because I would have to provide too many details to justify this fear. , before I half-argued it."

Elsewhere, Franz describes the atmosphere in the house in particular:

“I live in my family among the most beloved people, and yet I feel more alien than stranger. In recent years, a conversation with my mother consisted of an average of twenty words, and conversations with my father consisted mainly of greetings.

His closest friend and literary executor, Max Brod, recalls it in his book:

"Franz throughout his life was in the shadow of his imperious father, also externally impressive in his attitude (tall, broad-shouldered) (...)".

Although Franz's father was the head of the Jewish synagogue, only German was spoken at home because this would enable him to achieve more in life - so Kafka's father believed.

Franz Kafka had five siblings, but two of his brothers died shortly after their birthdays, and two of his sisters tragically died after Kafka's death. During the Holocaust, they were taken to the Łódź ghetto, and then in September 1942, they were deported to the extermination center in Chełmno nad Nerem, where they ended their lives.

Very interestingly, Franz Kafka was a vegetarian. And this, in his time, was a rare thing. Since childhood, he was in poor health and often spent time in various sanatoriums.

He was already engaged in literature at school age, but most of his works are considered lost. Most likely, Kafka himself destroyed them.

Franz studied law at the German University in Prague. He completed his law studies and then, in 1906, received a doctorate in law, after which he completed an internship in the land and criminal court. In addition, he studied chemistry. He also attended lectures on cultural history and German studies. During the third semester of his studies, in 1902, he met his best friend, Max Brod, who accompanied him faithfully until the end of his life. Although Max was a year younger than Kafka, he was already well-known in the Prague literary community.

He wrote in German, knew Czech, and began to learn Hebrew only at the end of his life. Successfully.

Among other interesting facts, it is worth mentioning that from 1908 to 1922, Kafka worked at the workers' accident insurance company of the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague. As part of his official duties, he traveled a lot around the Czech Republic and was responsible for inspecting subsequent plants.

He was very good at his job and rose quickly to the superintendent position. This meant he earned very well, considering the Czech conditions at that time. Interestingly, despite good earnings, Kafka lived with his parents until he was 34.

In the winter of 1916, he moved to Alchemiki Street, today known as Złota Uliczka. He rented an apartment there from his youngest sister, Ottla. The deplorable living conditions had a significant impact on the rapid deterioration of the writer's already poor health.

Golden Lane, located in Prague near the royal castle, is still one of the main tourist attractions of the Czech capital. According to legend, it was created for alchemists looking for a recipe for producing gold. Then it was taken over by goldsmiths of Jewish origin. Because the street was part of the defensive walls the apartments were small and low. They consisted only of a room, a kitchen, and an attic. Kafka lived at No. 22. Today, a museum dedicated to him is located under this address.

In 1917, Franz Kafka was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which at that time was an incurable disease. Because of this, he had to quit his job. Franz asked his employer to retire him. He received consent only after five years! He was released from the obligation to work on July 1, 1922.

In 1923, his health failing, he moved to Berlin and devoted himself exclusively to writing. It didn't take long. On June 3, 1924, he lost his battle with illness and died in a sanatorium in Kierling near Vienna. He was buried in the Prague Jewish cemetery.

Both father and mother survived Franz. They died in the 1930s.

Franz's cousin - Bruno Kafka - was very similar to him physically, but unlike the writer, he was robust, healthy, and energetic. He was a law professor and eventually rector of the German University. He also became a member of the Czech Parliament and played an outstanding role in the German liberal community.

Another interesting fact about Kafka is that his last life partner, Dora Diamant (also known as Dora Dymant), came from Pabianice. It was for her that he decided to break off the toxic relationship with his father, and in 1923, he moved out of the Czech capital to live with Dora Diamant in Berlin.

Another intriguing piece of information related to this German-speaking writer of Jewish origin is his influence on the work of the Polish painter Zdzisław Beksiński. Beksiński himself wrote about it as follows:

In my youth, I was inspired by Artur Grottger and this type of painting. Picasso also had a big influence on me, but it's nothing original. (…) I think that literature was much more important for my painting, especially the works of Franz Kafka, for whom I still have great sentiment.

Most likely, thanks to the numerous experiences gained during his work as an official, the idea to write his flagship work entitled "Process".

In turn, "The Penal Colony" presents a very drastic history. A public reading of this book took place in 1916 in Munich as part of the "Evenings with New Literature". Many people fainted during this reading, and by the end of it, almost all seats in the audience were empty. Mostly because this story is full of very graphic descriptions of torture scenes. This, according to historians, results from the personal experiences that Kafka experienced at that time. Franz then invented the most terrible ways to take his own life, using cruel torture and torment, which were called "punitive fantasies". Similarly, the novel The Trial contains a detailed description of the execution. All such bloody situations are described in an extremely precise, yet cold and dispassionate way.

Researchers of Kafka's work pay attention to the peculiar language of the author of The Trial. The reason is the multilingualism of Prague, where Franz grew up. A dedicated book was even written about this peculiar language ("Towards Minor Literature"), in which its authors compliment the revolutionary character of Kafka's style and describe it as the language of a Czech Jew trying to find his way in the German language.

Honesty in Kafka's work

But one of the most distinctive aspects of his work is intellectual honesty. Franz Kafka asked his best friend Max to burn all his works.

Fortunately, Brod did not do this, and thanks to him we can still enjoy Kafka's masterpieces today. A true friend decided to promote Kafka's work in the 1940s and 1950s and posthumously published, among others, three titles of an unfinished novel (America, The Trial, and The Castle). Max Brod also published Kafka's diaries and numerous short stories and miniatures.

There are probably many professional studies on the legacy that Kafka left behind. According to researchers, it is hard to assign Kafka's works to any literary current. But that's not the point of this post. Especially since I am not a professional literary critic or literature researcher. I think you have to know your place. Moreover, instead of reading studies, I would suggest everyone (try) to read "The Process". It's not easy, at least it wasn't for me.

The purpose of this entry is to show a man who was undoubtedly different from others. The legacy he left after his life influenced many other lives.

But another goal is also to show how the environment in which we grew up and our relationships with our loved ones influence our perception of the world. Our perspective, way of thinking, ability to establish new relationships and find our way in the world. We come into this world alone and we will leave alone. But between these two extreme events, there is not necessarily loneliness.

Loneliness was Kafka's personal, constant, and painful experience.

And the great Jean-Paul Sartre wrote this about his work:

“Everything has already been said about Kafka: that he wanted to describe bureaucracy, the progression of his illness, the situation of Eastern European Jews, the search for inaccessible transcendence, the world of grace when it is lacking. All this is true, but I think he wanted to describe being human. However, we felt especially that during this ongoing Trial, which ends suddenly and badly and whose judges are unknown, that in these vain efforts of the accused to learn the points of the accusation, that in this slowly forming defense which turns against the defender, becoming an accusation that in this absurd reality, which the characters live with zeal and to which the keys are found elsewhere, we have understood this story and recognized ourselves in it. We were far from Flaubert and Mauriac: at least there was a never-before-seen way of presenting tricked-out, undermined, petty, inventively mediocre fates and the irreducible nature of phenomena, and a sense that beyond them there was another truth that it will remain inaccessible to us forever. Kafka is not imitated, he is not written anew: through his books, one had to gain valuable encouragement and look elsewhere.

Franz Kafka quotes

Franz Kafka - quotes and sayings

After learning about the life and work of Franz Kafka, let's end this article with his most famous aphorisms. These golden thoughts and deep reflections of a strange nature and unique beauty are the quintessence of Kafka's style. All of Franz Kafka's quotes come from his works.

Only by escaping from the world can you enjoy it.
How many happy thoughts are smothered under the blanket when you sleep alone in your bed, and how many unhappy dreams you warm yourself with it.
Lies are becoming the essence of the world order.
The world is bad and it's making it easier.
Often, if you look carefully, you recognize yourself by the face of the butler at the door.
Christ is an abyss full of light... whoever looks into it must throw himself into it.
A person's gesture of bitterness is often only a fossil of a child's shame.
Man cannot live without constant trust in something indestructible.
Man comes into this world with a bleeding wound.
One of the most effective temptations of evil is the call to fight.
There is a goal, but no path: what we call a path is hesitation.
How many happy thoughts are smothered under the blanket when you sleep alone in your bed, and how many unhappy dreams you warm yourself with it.
The executioner always has a bad reputation.
Victims exist because executioners exist.
You lie as little as possible when you lie as little as possible, not when you have few opportunities to do so.
Even old friends can't be sure.
You can encourage someone who is blindfolded to look through the blindfold and still not see anything.
There are two cardinal sins from which all others arise: impatience and sloth. Because of impatience people were driven out of paradise, because of delay they do not return there.
All mistakes that human beings make are the result of lack of patience. Premature interruption of an orderly process is an artificial obstacle raised in the way of artificial reality.
The right way is along a rope that is not stretched high, but just above the ground. People seem to trip over it more than they walk on it.
The desire for death is the first sign of coming understanding.
Only our concept of time allows us to talk about the final judgment. It is essentially a summary court
We are abandoned like lost children in the forest. Standing in front of me and looking at me, what do you know about the pains that are inside me, and what do I know about yours? And if I fell down before You and cried and told you, what more would you learn about me than about hell when someone tells you that it is hot and terrible. If only for this reason, people should stand before each other with such reverence, such reflection, such love, as before the gate of hell.
I think we should only read the kind of books that hurt and pierce us (...) We need books that affect us like a catastrophe, that sadden us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished to the forest with away from anyone, like suicide. The book must be an ax to the frozen sea inside us.
To understand happiness is to understand that the ground you are standing on cannot be wider than the two feet that cover it.
If anyone loves you, it's me. If a million loves you, I'm one of them. If no one loves you, then know that I am dead. - Letters to Milena
Love is that you are the knife with which I dig inside myself. - Letters to Milena
I can speak more freely with you than with anyone, because no one has been there for me the way you are, with all the knowledge about me, with such awareness, against everything, in spite of everything.

And finally, we invite you to read a fragment of the letter to Max. This is a sample of the unique style created by the genius from Prague. And at the same time, it shows his sensitivity, extraordinary intellect, and sense of humor.

“Here you have it, dear Max, two books and a pebble. I always tried to find something for your birthday that, due to indifference, would not change, would not be lost, would not be spoiled and could not be forgotten. And thinking about it for months, I again saw no other solution than to send you a book. However, there is a problem with books, on the one hand they are indifferent, and then on the other hand they are so much more interesting, and then I was attracted to these indifferent ones only by a conviction that did not resolve anything in me, and finally, still with a different conviction, I held a book in my hand that was burning just out of curiosity. Once I even deliberately forgot your birthday, which was better than sending a book, but it wasn't good. That's why I'm sending you this stone now and I will continue to send it to you as long as we live. You will keep it in your pocket, it will protect you, you will put it in a drawer, it will also not be idle, but if you throw it away, it will be best. Because you know, Max, my love for you is greater than myself and I live in it more than it in me, and it also has little support in my uncertain being, but this way it will get a place in a rock and let it be only in a crack. cobblestones on Schalengasse. It has been saving me for a long time, more often than you think, and now, when I know less about myself than ever before, and I only feel myself fully consciously in half-sleep, only ever so slightly, only now - I am still moving around as if I had black insides - so it will be a good thing throwing such a pebble into the world and thus separating the certain from the uncertain. What then are books! The book starts to bore you and won't stop, or your child will tear it up, or, like Walser's book, it falls apart when you get it. With a pebble, on the contrary, nothing can bore you, such a pebble cannot be damaged, and if it does, it is only after a long time, so you cannot forget it, because you are not obliged to remember it, after all, you can never forget it lose it, because on the first gravel road you find, you will find it again, because it is just the first pebble you come across. And yet I could not harm it with greater praise, for damage from praise occurs only when the praise crushes, destroys or misplaces the thing praised. But a pebble? In short, I found you the most beautiful birthday present and I give it to you with a kiss, which is supposed to express clumsy thanks for being you.“

Franz Kafka - List of the Most Important Works

Stories and fragments

  • Das Urteil, 1913 (The Judgment).

  • In der Strafkolonie, 1914 (Penal Colony).

  • Vor dem Gesetz, 1914 (Before the Law).

  • Die Verwandlung, 1915 (The Transformation).

  • Ein Bericht für eine Akademie, 1917 (Report to the Academy).

  • Forschungen eines Hundes, 1922 (The Inquiries of a Dog).

  • Ein Hungerkünstler, 1922 (The Starving Artist).

  • Der Bau, 1923 (Shelter).


  • Der Prozess, published posthumously, 1925 (The Trial).

  • Das Schloß, published posthumously, 1926 (Castle).

  • Der Verschollene, published posthumously, 1927 (America).

See also other biographies:

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