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Kafka in Life and Death

Franz Kafka had a tormented relationship with his family, particularly with his overbearing father. No one in his family approved of the way he lead his life, nor did they ever give him any recognition as the great artist he was. He died in 1924 of tuberculosis, at the age of only forty, with most of his greatest works still unpublished. In the excellent Kafka in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern expresses Kafka's familial plight quite poignantly:

Kafka's body was buried in the New Jewish Cemetary in the eastern suburbs of Prague. The simple tombstone was inscribed with the name Dr. Franz Kafka. His parents evidently felt it appropriate only to mention his legal doctorate: no reference was made to the fact that he was a writer. In 1931 his father died and was buried beside him. Three years later his mother died and was also buried in the family plot. All three names were inscribed on the same tombstone. Even in death, Kafka did not escape his family or their lack of recognition of his achievement.

The Kafka volume is part of series of Strathern's short biographies of writers and philosophers, published by Ivan R. Dee. Well worth checking out.

March 1, 2006 in Books | Permalink


It always amazes me to find out these guy's died so young and still managed to accomplish so much. What did I do with my misspent youth? On the other hand there are a few writers who started their careers at 40. There's still hope.

Posted by: Donavan at Mar 1, 2006 8:45:59 PM

There had better be hope. I just turned 40 this year. And still no "Metamorphosis" on my CV.

Posted by: Pete at Mar 2, 2006 8:06:32 AM