Franz Kafka 1883-1924
Czech writer who wrote in German.
Born into a middle-class Jewish family, he earned a doctorate and then worked successfully but unhappily at a government insurance office from 1907 until he was forced by a case of tuberculosis to retire in 1922. The disease caused his death two years later. Hypersensitive and neurotic, he reluctantly published only a few works in his lifetime, including the symbolic story The Metamorphosis (1915), the allegorical fantasy In the Penal Colony (1919), and the story collection A Country Doctor (1919). His unfinished novels The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926), and Amerika (1927), published posthumously against Kafka's wishes, express the anxieties and alienation of 20th-century humanity. His visionary tales, with their inscrutable mixture of the normal and the fantastic, have provoked a wealth of interpretations. Kafka's posthumous reputation and influence have been enormous, and he is regarded as one of the great European writers of the 20th century.
Courtesy of Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 2003.