Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was born in Prague and most of his life spent there, but he was one of the major German-language fiction writers of the 20th century.
Not fitting into the world is common with artists, and many writers could be said to fall into this category. But none has more poignantly rendered the theme of alienation than Kafka. From the tale of a man who literally turns into a bug, in the short story, "Metamorphosis," to the protagonist in his brilliant novel, "The Trial," who is arrested and plunged into the ordeal of a trial upon answering his door. The agents who arrest Josef K. do not specify the charge, or identify themselves. "Are you you? Then come with us." Is basically all they say.
Kafka, despite his artistic temperament, and his frustration that he could not find the time to write as much as he wished, did enjoy some success at the insurance company where he worked. While there he invented the safety helmet, an invention which has saved thousands of lives, and for which Kafka received a medal. But Kafka was always tortured by the fact that he believed himself to be repugnant, and unworthy, both physically and mentally, and suffered from depression and social anxiety throughout the entirety of his short life.
The world Kafka created in his fiction is often dark, but it is often filled with humor too, which he may have used to combat his depression. Kafka would often read from his work to friends and family members, and when he did he would concentrate on the humorous passages as their amusement delighted him.
Without exaggeration; who is well-educated, knows Kafka, however during his lifetime he published only few short stories. He became famous later, such works as novella Metamorphosis or novels The Trial, The Castle and America, which were published posthumously, brought him to world’s attention.
His writings mostly concerns about troubled individuals in a nightmarishly impersonal and bureaucratic world. All his works were written in German, the only noticeable pieces he wrote in Czech were letters to Milena Jesenska, an important Czech journalist, his close friend and the most probably also his lover.
Today, there is quite strong legacy of Franz Kafka in Prague, you can visit his museum, where you can buy correspondences, diaries, manuscripts, photographs and drawings, which have not been comprehensively exhibited in the past. Close to Old Town Square, there is a small square named after him, with his bust by the sculptor Karel Hladik, and also the house no. 22, the Kafka’s house. And an interesting statue inspired by Kafka´s life and work, made by Czech sculpture Jaroslav Rona in 2000, is to be seen nearby in Dusni Street, where Kafka spend most of his life.
The word “Kafkaesque” is often used to describe situations remanding those from his novels, means those, which are absurd, quite tragic, strange, chaotic. So maybe, if you wander lonely through streets of Old Prague you will also feel that “Kafkaesgue” atmosphere of the town for a while.
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