Kafka, Franz

The entrance to the Franz Kafka museum in Prague.
The entrance to the Franz Kafka museum in Prague via Wikipedia

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was an Austrian novelist of German and Jewish parents, born in Prague.

Kafka pursued an education in law and took a position in an insurance firm (1907-23) before moving to Berlin. He published short stories and critical essays.

His best known work, Die Verwandlung (Metamorphosis, 1916), is about a man who awakes one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect.

His unfinished novels were published after his death by a close associate, Max Brod. They include Ein Prozess (The Trial, 1925), Das Schloss (The Castle, 1926) and Amerika (1927).

Kafka’s haunting view of the world (known as ‘Kafkaesque‘) has left a lasting impression in the arts and humanities. In essence, Kafka saw life from the perspective of the innocent victim of dark totalitarian regimes, cleverly masked though endless bureaucracies.

No surprise, then, that politically he was an anarchist. But this kind of anarchist isn’t just about street protests and violence. In Kafka’s case it was a loosely connected political ideology where adherents generally believe in eschewing authority – especially authoritarianism – in favor of the supposed merits of a decentralized rule by the people.

Kafka was also against military power. So his form of anarchism was of the more peaceful and thoughtful type–perhaps something along the lines of what Jim Morrison and The Doors called “The Soft Parade.”

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