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Author Franz Kafka explored the human struggle for understanding and security in his novels such as Amerika, The Trial and The Castle.
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Born on July 3, 1883, in Prague, capital of what is now the Czech Republic, writer Franz Kafka grew up in a middle-class Jewish family. After studying law at the University of Prague, he worked in insurance and wrote in the evenings. In 1923, he moved to Berlin to focus on writing, but died of tuberculosis shortly after. His friend Max Brod published most of his work posthumously, such as Amerika and The Castle.
"A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die."
Writer Franz Kafka was the son of a well-to-do Jewish family who was born on July 3, 1883, in Prague, the capital of Bohemia, a kingdom that was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Tragedy shaped the Kafka home. Franz's two younger brothers, Georg and Heinrich, died in infancy by the time Kafka was 6, leaving the boy the only son in a family that included three daughters.
Kafka had a difficult relationship with both of his parents. His mother, Julie, was a devoted homemaker who lacked the intellectual depth to understand her son's dreams to become a writer. Kafka's father, Hermann, had a forceful personality that often overwhelmed the Kafka home. He was a success in business, making his living retailing men's and women's clothes.
Kafka's father had a profound impact on both Kafka's life and writing. He was a tyrant of sorts, with a wicked temper and little appreciation for his son's creative side. Much of Kafka's personal struggles, in romance and other relationships, came, he believed, in part from his complicated relationship with his father. In his literature, Kafka's characters were often coming up against an overbearing power of some kind, one that could easily break the will of men and destroy their sense of self-worth.
Kafka seems to have derived much of his value directly from to his family, in particular his father. For much of his adult life, he lived within close proximity to his parents.
German was his first language. In fact, despite his Czech background and Jewish roots, Kafka's identity favored German culture.
Kafka was a smart child who did well in school even at the Altstädter Staatsgymnasium, an exacting high school for the academic elite. Still, even while Kafka earned the respect of his teachers, he chafed under their control and the school's control of his life.
After high school Kafka enrolled at the Charles Ferdinand University of Prague, where intended to study chemistry but after just two weeks switched to law. The change pleased his father, and also gave Kafka the time to take classes in art and literature.
In 1906 Kafka completed his law degree and embarked on a year of unpaid work as a law clerk.
After completing his apprenticeship, Kafka found work with an Italian insurance agency in late 1907. It was a terrible fit from the start, with Kafka forced to work a tiring schedule that left little time for his writing.
He lasted at the agency a little less than a year. After turning in his resignation he quickly found a new job with the Workers' Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia.
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