“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” —Franz Kafka
On this day in 1883 Franz Kafka, one of the most prominent writers to come out of the 20th century, was born. Despite the significance of his work to later writers and thinkers, at the time of his death Kafka’s name was known only to a small group of readers. It was only after his death that Kafka and his work gained fame.
Today, it can be said that Kafka has become an indelible part of our culture. His name and style of writing has lent itself to the word Kafkaesque, which signifies the surreal, oppressive, illogical and nightmarish situations found in Kafka’s writings.
Like many, my first introduction to Kafka was when I read Metamorphosis, a bizarre tale of a traveling salesman who wakes up one morning to find he has transformed into a monstrous vermin resembling a cockroach. As the story never explains why this character has transformed nor did Kafka ever provide an explanation, there’s plenty of room for individual interpretation and speculation.
It’s a surreal story but I enjoyed reading it and other novels by Kafka. How about you? Do you have a favorite of Kafka’s literary productions? Perhaps a Kafkaesque experience you’d like to share?