Franz Kafka was born on July 3rd, 1883 in a territory that is now the Czech Republic but was the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. He died on June 3rd, 1924 in Kierling, Austria at age 40. It only took forty years to Franz Kafka to completely revolutionize and inspire an entire generation of writers to come after him. His style was unique and so was him. Let´s dive into the life of my favorite writer of all times.
Early Life In Prague
What is now the capital city of the Czech Republic was back then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Franz was a German-speaking Jewish kid from a middle-class family. He was a strange case of a child from a marriage in which the mother was better educated than her father. While he was a fashion retailer, she was the daughter of a very prosperous merchant. He was the first of six children. His two brothers died being very young, before Franz was seven and his three sisters during World War II Holocaust.
Franz Kafka had a troubled relationship with a hugely authoritarian dad. The amazing Letter to His Father explains it in detail. This tormented along with the loneliness of his parents working all day literally leaving him with governesses was to be a pillar of some of his darkest characters.
Education For Real Life
Strange as it might seem, Franz Kafka was a great student and had good grades, he was praised among pairs and complimented by teachers. By 1901, after completing his Matura Exams he started studying chemistry and lasted only two weeks before going to law school. Here is his father figure again, because Franz wasn´t at all excited by the idea of going to law school, but his father was very pleased by it. He made all sorts of friends at university and was his first real exposure to artists, writers, actors and philosophy-students. He joined the literary club and met Max Brod, who was to be his friend for a lifetime.
Brod was very important in many moments of Franz´s life, but at first, he was the one with whom he read Plato in Greek, and Flaubert in French. Franz loved Dostoievsky, Goethe, Gogol, Grillprazer so much he considered these authors to be his true blood brothers.
He worked in different insurance companies making his writing time central and his working time accessory. This was not an easy task, but he managed to do it and be praised by his superiors at all times. He used to even write the company´s yearly reports. Can you imagine that; a yearly report of an insurance company written and signed by Franz Kafka himself? Well, they exist. Kafka was educated for real life and he performed in it flawlessly.
The Real Franz Kafka
Beyond his image of a successful insurance company employee, he was devoted to writing. He also had a very active social life and although he never married, he had several girlfriends and was a regular client in many of the brothels everywhere he went and was a confessed womanizer in the view of his friends. According to his own diaries, he was often tortured by his own sexual desire and terrified to sexual failure.
He had a rich loving life and can be related to many women with whom he had encounters, love affairs, shared passions. He was engaged for marriage three times at least.
He had a rich loving life and can be related to many women.
His inner world was mostly turbulent and, in his lifetime, he not only published very little of his writing, but also burnt almost 90% of it. Can you imagine just how much of him have we missed? It is unthinkable that he thought of himself as a mediocre writer and was afraid of rejection and shy to show his work to others.
Franz Kafka was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1917 and since there was no cure for it, he got a pension and spent time with his sister Ottla. His laryngeal situation got so extreme that the cause of death was starvation. He couldn´t be fed because his throat was completely closed and parenteral nutrition hadn´t been developed yet.
He is buried in the New Jewish Cementery in Prague since June 11th, 1924.