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Snapshots in History: July 3: Remembering Franz Kafka

July 4, 2013 | John P. | Comments (0)

On July 3 and beyond, take a moment to remember Franz Kafka (Born: July 3, 1883 in Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary; Died: June 3, 1924 in Kierling, Austria), an influential Czech-German-Jewish writer whose writing in the original German (also translated into English and other languages) was filled with examples of alienation, psychological or physical cruelty, endless bureaucracy, and inexplicable transformations. Following his training as a lawyer, he worked for an insurance company but began to write short stories in his spare time. Most of Kafka’s work was published posthumously, mainly of account of the refusal of Kafka’s friend Max Brod to burn Kafka’s manuscripts (as per Kafka’s request) upon his death. Despite being the literary executor of Kafka’s estate, Brod had previously told Kafka that he would not accede to his request to destroy his manuscripts. Brod held Kafka’s writing in high regard and sought to have them published. Most of Kafka’s work was published following his demise.

Consider the following selected titles by Franz Kafka for loan from Toronto Public Library collections:


The metamorphosis

Metamorphosis [Bantam classic ed.] / Franz Kafka, 1981. Book. Adult Fiction.

After disturbing dreams, Gregor Samsa wakes up and finds himself transformed into an insect. His family feels horrified and disgraced; Gregor in turn feels alienated from his family and society but gradually comes to accept the transformation. Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation come to the fore in this story.

See also: eBook (2000), eBook (2004), eBook (2005), eBook (2009), eAudiobook (2011), eAudiobook (2011).

See also: Audiobook CD (2003)



The trial

The trial [Definitive ed.] / Franz Kafka, 1968, c1946. Book. Adult Fiction.

Joseph K., a respected bank employee, is arrested suddenly and surprisingly and is confounded by the situation of defending himself against a charge about which he cannot find out anything. He also does not know who his judges are and his trial drags out for a year until he is executed. Was he guilty? If so, of what? Beware of blind and bureaucratic totalitarianism.

See also: eAudiobook (2011).

See also: Audiobook CD (2007).  




The castle  

The castle / Franz Kafka, 1998. Book. Adult Fiction.

In one of Kafka’s incomplete novels, K., an underappreciated land surveyor, undertakes a futile and incessant attempt to gain access to the castle. K. is not accepted in the village and he is not able to go home.

See also: Audiobook CD (1998).    




The man who disappeared America

The man who disappeared (America) / Franz Kafka, 2012. Book. Adult Fiction.

Kafka’s first (and incomplete) novel focuses on 16-year old Karl Rossmann who was compelled by his family to leave for the United States, following his seduction by a female servant. Karl befriends a ship’s stoker but meets up with his uncle, Senator Jacob, who abandons him after Karl seeks out a friend of his uncle without first seeking his uncle’s permission. Karl becomes mixed up with two drifters named Robinson and Delamarche who take advantage of him but Karl finds it hard to get away. Finally, he escapes the drifters after having landed a job with the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma.

See also: eBook (1996)


Want to learn more about Frank Kafka himself? Then consider borrowing the following title from Toronto Public Library collections:


Franz Kafka the poet of shame and guilt

Franz Kafka: the poet of shame and guilt / Saul Friedländer, 2013. Book. Adult Non-Fiction.

Historian Friedländer focused on Kafka’s ambivalent relationships with family, friends, lovers, Judaism, and his own physical being. The author alleged that Kafka was homosexual despite acknowledging that Kafka was only involved with women in a romantic sense. On the one hand, the book touched upon Kafka’s melancholy but also accounted for his socializing with friends, frequenting nightclubs, and flirting with women. Undoubtedly, Kafka was a complicated individual.


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