23 Famous Franz Kafka Quotes to Inspire You

Updated: Jul 28

Birth: July 3, 1883, Prague, Czechia

Death: June 3, 1924, Kierling, Klosterneuburg, Austria


Franz Kafka was born on July 3, 1883 in Prague as the first child of a middle-class Jewish family. He lived in the Kingdom of Bohemia under the Austrian Empire, the mosaic of nations at that time.


The Kafka family was speaking both German and Czech as their mother tongue. Kafka's two older brothers (Georg and Heinrich), the eldest child in the family, died at a young age. His sisters Elli, Valli and Ottla lost their lives in the Jewish genocide of Nazi Germany.


Franz Kafka went to Deutsche Knabenschule in Fleischmark in 1889. The main people who played a role in his childhood were the French governess Bailly, the housekeeper Marie Werner.


The language spoken at the time in Prague was Czech. He met Bauer at a young age. Milena Jesenska, whom she met in the early 1920s, would die at the German concentration camp in 1944, 20 years later, having a strong influence on him. In 1923 he moved to Berlin to escape his family's dominance and concentrate on writing, where he also had a lover named Dora Dymant.


In 1917, Kafka learned that he had tuberculosis. He was hospitalized because of his severe flu in 1919. He retired in 1922, but his financial situation was poor and his health deteriorated steadily. He spent the last 6 weeks of his life in the sanatorium. Franz Kafka died on June 3, 1924, at the age of 41, but left behind dozens of world classics such as "The Trial", "The Metamorphosis", "The Castle" and "America".



In theory there is a possibility of perfect happiness: To believe in the indestructible element within one, and not to strive towards it./Franz Kafka
“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” /Franz Kafka
“Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” /Franz Kafka
“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” /Franz Kafka
Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate... but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins./Franz Kafka


I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy./Franz Kafka
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” /Franz Kafka/Franz Kafka
You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid./Franz Kafka
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” /Franz Kafka
Don't despair, not even over the fact that you don't despair./Franz Kafka


“I am free and that is why I am lost.” /Franz Kafka
So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being./Franz Kafka
“I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.” /Franz Kafka
A stair not worn hollow by footsteps is, regarded from its own point of view, only a boring something made of wood./Franz Kafka
“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.” /Franz Kafka


The fact that our task is exactly commensurate with our life gives it the appearance of being infinite./Franz Kafka
“A First Sign of the Beginning of Understanding is the Wish to Die.” /Franz Kafka
Test yourself on mankind. It is something that makes the doubter doubt, the believer believe./Franz Kafka
“The meaning of life is that it stops.” /Franz Kafka
One tells as few lies as possible only by telling as few lies as possible, and not by having the least possible opportunity to do so./Franz Kafka

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