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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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As much as any work could, the job and his employers suited Kafka, who worked hard and became his boss's right-hand man. Kafka remained with the company until 1917, when a bout with tuberculosis forced him to take a sick leave and to eventually retire in 1922.
At work Kafka was a popular employee, easy to socialize with and seen as somebody with a good sense of humor. But his personal life still raged with complications. His inhibitions and insecurities plagued his relationships. Twice he was engaged to marry his girlfriend, Felice Bauer, before the two finally went their separate ways in 1917.
Later, Kafka later fell in love with Dora Dymant (Diamant), who shared his Jewish roots and a preference for socialism. Amidst Kafka's increasingly dire health, the two fell in love and lived together in Berlin. Their relationship largely centered on Kafka's illnesses. For many years, even before he contracted tuberculosis, Kafka had not been well. Constantly strained and stressed, he suffered from migraines, boils, depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Kafka and Dora eventually returned to Prague. In an attempt to overcome his tuberculosis, Kafka traveled to Vienna for treatment at a sanatorium. He died in Vienna on June 23, 1924. He was buried beside his parents in Prague's New Jewish Cemetery in Olsanske.
While Kafka strove to earn a living, he also poured himself into his writing work. An old friend named Max Brod would prove crucial in supporting Kafka's literary work both during his life and long after it.
Kafka's celebrity as a writer only came after his death. During his lifetime, he published just a sliver of his overall work.
His most popular and best-selling short story, “The Metamorphosis,” was completed in 1912. The story was written from Kafka's third-floor room, which offered a direct view of the Vltava River and its toll bridge.
"I would stand at the window for long periods," he wrote in his diary in 1912, "and was frequently tempted to amaze the toll collector on the bridge below by my plunge."
Kafka followed up “The Metamorphosis” with Mediation, a collection of short stories, in 1913, and then “Before the Law,” a short story, a year later.
Even with his worsening health, Kafka continued to write. In 1916 he completed “The Judgment,” which spoke directly about the relationship he shared with his father. Later works included “In the Penal Colony” and “A Country Doctor,” both finished in 1919.
In 1924, an ill but still working Kafka finished A Hunger Artist, which features four stories that demonstrate the concise and lucid style that marked his writing at the end of his life.
But Kafka, still living with the demons that plagued with him self-doubt, was reluctant to unleash his work on the world. He requested that Brod, who doubled as his literary executor, destroy any unpublished manuscripts.
Fortunately, Brod did not adhere to his friend's wishes and in 1925 published The Trial, a dark, paranoid tale that proved to be the author's most successful novel.
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