Franz Kafka

Most of his works, such as “Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”), … are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy (The Castle), and mystical transformations. (Wikipedia Franz Kafka 11.10.2015)

Alienation: “a condition in social relationships reflected by a low degree of integration or common values and a high degree of distance or isolation between individuals, or between an individual and a group of people in a community or work environment” (Wikipedia Social Alienation 11.10.15)

Parent Child Conflict

Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (Wikipedia Kranz Kafka 11.10.15)

Kingdom of Bohemia, monarchy rule and ‘super-power’? until 1780

But Kafka was around during the time of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, he was born 3 July 1883 and died 3 June 1924.

Austria-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918)

Timeline of Prague around Kafka’s lifetime:

Metamorphosis was written between the 1st World War starting and Czech gaining independence.

It is well known that Franz Kafka never took part in the conflict. His private and professional life – so as that of everybody living in the first decades of the last century – was however influenced by the WWI: newspaper and personal reports of acquaintances, the occasional meeting with soldiers, veterans and other civilians whose lives were upset by the war provided him constant information on the destroying force of the war. ( 11.10.15)

The war influenced Kafka’s writing, as well as revolution as he was 31 when the war started and 32 when Czech became independent.

Literature often refers to the his famous diary entry on 2nd August 1914, where the writer notes: “Germany has declared war on Russia. Went swimming in the afternoon”. A good example of macro- and micro-history, collective and personal existence which may be interpreted also as a radical shift from world events and the “banality” of the everyday life. ( 11.10.15)

The whole world and culture was radically changing around Kafka, yet he was also more interested in the day to day life.

Resistance at home grew only gradually…By 1917, when things were quite apparently not in Austria-Hungary’s favour, Czech opposition to the war became much more active…proclaimed Czechoslovakia an independent Republic on October 28, 1918 and began to assume the transfer of power from Austrian officials. (LivingPrague 11.10.15)

Anybody who is particularly interested in this period of Czech history should definitely read “The Good Soldier Svejk” by Jaroslav Hasek. It not only offers a great deal of insight into the kind of passive resistance the Czechs favour, but also offers many more insights into the Czech psyche (LivingPrague 11.10.15)