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100 years since the death of Franz Kafka

By Lucia Lago Krümmer

100 years since the death of Franz Kafka


Franz Kafka in the year 1923

100 years since the death of Franz Kafka

This Monday, June 3rd, marks 100 years since the death of Franz Kafka, one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century. His work is associated with existentialism and expressionism and addresses complex themes related to the human condition, such as guilt, bureaucracy, frustration, and loneliness. 

One morning, as Gregor Samsa awoke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his hard, armor-like back, and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly, divided into stiff, arched segments. The bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely… 

Thus begins the Metamorphosis (1915), the seminal work of Franz Kafka and one of the undisputed classics of world literature. Through the story of Gregor Samsa, a young merchant, Kafka seeks to construct an allegory out of the confrontation between the human condition and the modern world. 

These themes, very recurrent in his work, are absolutely related to biographical details of his life. Born in Prague in 1883, to a Jewish family, Kafka would maintain a complicated relationship with his demanding father, to whom he would dedicate his harrowing writing Letter to His Father. 

He graduated in law from the University of Prague and worked as an employee in an insurance company for more than ten years, an experience that undoubtedly inspired him to write The Trial, which tells the story of Josef K., a common bank worker who one day is arrested without knowing the accusation against him. In this novel, Kafka addresses one of the central themes of his work: the maze of an inept bureaucracy, totally alienated with the oppression of the modern judicial system. 

Thus, the term Kafkaesque emerges, which refers to an absurd and disturbing event, such as waking up one day transformed into an insect and your main concern is being late to work. 

In addition to being characterized as a monumental writer, there are some events in Kafka's life that show him as an exceptional human being. An example of this is the story of the encounters he had with a little girl in Steglitz Park in Berlin. The girl was desperate because she had lost her doll. Kafka helped her look for it, but they failed to find it. That is how Kafka came up with the idea of telling the girl that her doll was not lost but had gone on a trip, and he was the mailman who would bring her letters. 

Toward the end of his life, Kafka asked his friend Max Brod to burn all his works. Luckily for all of us, he did not keep his promise and that is why we can enjoy his writings today. Kafka died without imagining that his work would transcend several generations and that he would become one of the most important writers in world literature. 100 years after his death, Kafka's work remains more relevant than ever, and reading his work and preserving his legacy is essential. 


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lucia lago krummer

Lucia Lago Krümmer

I am a student of International Relations and Political Science at the University of Belgrano. I am passionate about issues related to international policy, diplomacy and human rights.

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