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Illustration by Roberto Maján Why do we still find Kafka so modern and current?

Being Kafka

Why does Franz Kafka’s spell remain unbroken a hundred years after his death? Why do we still perceive Kafka as so modern and contemporary? Because Kafka wrote such beautiful letters? Because we love drama queens? Because we feel that the world has never been more Kafkaesque than it is today? Join us as we step into Kafka’s world! Be Kafka!

Warm Up

Kitty Kahane Word Clouds

When someone mentions Franz Kafka, it inevitably triggers associations. Illustrator Kitty Kahane has taken these word for word and created pictures from them. – We invite you on a tour of the Kafka cosmos!

Illustration: Kitty Kahane Kafka word cloud German Kitty Kahane

Psychological test Which Kafka character are you?

Joseph K.? Fräulein Bürstner? Gregor Samsa? Grete Mitzelbach? Which of Kafka’s literary characters are you? Answer the questions in our psychological test to find out!

Image: Beatrice Davies Fräulein Bürstner

Deep dive and Heavy reading

Marius Goldhorn Oklahama, 3666

Many assume that Franz Kafka’s fragment “Das Naturtheater von Oklahama” (Nature Theatre of Oklahama) was intended as the final chapter of the unfinished novel “Amerika”. Marius Goldhorn takes a closer look at the text. He sets the ending of “Amerika” in 3666 and recounts a working day for protagonist Karl in the 37th century, starting with sage and a rye bagel.

Illustration by Tanita Olbrich Marius Goldhorn: “Oklahama, 3666”

Amelie Kahl Franz had style

What do Kafka and fashion have in common? A feeling of always arriving too late. We chase after fashion and can escape it only to a limited degree. In a way, we are at its mercy. Because no matter how we dress or don’t dress, our outward appearance always says something about us.

© Museum of Decorative Arts Prague Model at the Roubíčková fashion salon in Prague

Ironclad Logic The wings of a dove

Are novels like dove wings? Polish philosopher Grzegorz Jankowicz comes up with this hypothesis while taking a closer look at the works of Kafka. How could Kafka’s protagonists have been spared their fate?

Photo: Manav Jain © Unsplash The wings of a dove

Tomáš Moravec Whom does Franz Kafka belong to?

The question of whom Franz Kafka belongs to occupies many minds more persistently than is perhaps necessary.

© Archiv Klaus Wagenbach Franz Kafka about 34 years old. July 1917

Fun Facts

Exaggerations Was Kafka a drama queen?

Be it his weight, health, father complex or doubting his own literary talent: Kafka had numerous “issues”. Could he be described as a “drama queen” in today’s vocabulary?

© Jared Subia / Unsplash Was Kafka a drama queen?

Kafka and sport The great swimmer

Most people know Franz Kafka as a brilliant author. However, what many Kafka buffs don’t know: Kafka was a thoroughly physical person, Kafka was not just sporty, he was an all-out sports enthusiast.

Kafka on the beach with a stranger, September 1913 on the Lido in Venice

Digitised diaries The Kafka search engine

In a subsection of the University of Vienna website, all of Franz Kafka’s journals and letters are freely accessible and searchable. The person behind the website is Werner Haas, librarian at the University of Vienna. 

© Verlag Klaus Wagenbach One of the first messages Kafka sent to Max Brod, who would later become his friend: “Greetings from Zuckmantel”, dated 24th August 1905.

At Work with Kafka Ten Geniuses with Unusual Professions

Not only was Franz Kafka a writer. He also had to work at an office to make ends meet. And he wasn’t the only one. Here are ten examples of creative minds with monotonous, absurd jobs.

Collage: Tobi Schrank © Goethe-Institut Geniuses with unusual professions


Comics and graphic novels Kafka in the realm of comics

We know that Franz Kafka was himself a good illustrator and would surely have enjoyed these comics and graphic novels that were created by comic book artists from different parts of the world and all have one thing in common: the subject of Kafka.

© Peter Kuper Peter Kuper: The Metamorphosis

Autofiction Letters to the parents

Kafka wrote his “Letter to His Father” in 1919, at the age of 36. The letter never reached its addressee but became a famous autobiographical commentary. And just like Kafka, dozens of authors have preoccupied themselves with the entanglements of their identity.

© Verlag Klaus Wagenbach Picture of Kafka's parents

Graphic novel Kafka’s failed money-making scheme

On the hundredth anniversary of his death, Franz Kafka’s life and work are being celebrated and illuminated. In his new graphic novel, illustrator Nicolas Mahler gives them a colourful brilliance – although it’s almost all black-and-white.

© Suhrkamp / Canva Mahler: Komplett Kafka

Nicolas Mahler Draw Kafka for me

Nicolas Mahler is a comic illustrator whose book “Komplett Kafka” (Completely Kafka) is published in Kafka’s centenary year, and it will tour as an exhibition. Ulrich Fügener spoke with Nicolas Mahler – about comics, Kafka, humour and melancholy.

© Nicolas Mahler, Suhrkamp Verlag Nicolas Mahler: “Komplett Kafka” (Completely Kafka)


Playmobil Kafka on Youtube

Classics don’t have to be boring, thought Michael Sommer to himself, and started the Youtube channel “Sommer’s World Literature to go”. He presents a weekly work of world literature on his channel, posed with his Playmobil cast – including the works of Franz Kafka.

© Michael Sommer and Reclam Verlag Scene from “Letter to my Father” posed with Playmobil figures

Marie-Pierre Poulin Booktube with Kafka

In her booktube video series Marie-Pierre Poulin, librarian at the Goethe-Institut Montréal, presents the timeless classics “The Metamorphosis” and “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. Enjoy!

Goethe-Institut Montréal Marie-Pierre Poulin

Kafka around the world

Hernán D. Caro Kafka and Latin American literature

To this day, Franz Kafka continues to have considerable influence on the literature of Latin America. – An overview.

Colita; © Archivo Colita Fotografía Gabriel Garcia Márquez. Barcelona 1969

Kafkaesque worlds Kafka in the Indian art and literature

The influences of Franz Kafka extend beyond literature and find resonance worldwide in visual arts, film and architecture. Let’s have a look at the Indian art scene.

© Dilip Ranade Kafka in the Aquarium (2003) (Acrylic on canvas 36 x 48 inches)

Pleased to meet you Franz

Early pop culture Kafka, the Cinephile

At the beginning of the 20th century, cinema was new and sensational – Franz Kafka was fascinated by it. There are numerous mentions of what Kafka had seen at the movies.

© Noom Peerapong / Unsplash A sensation at the beginning of the 20th century: a visit to the cinema

Photo Reportage Franz Kafka’s Prague

Exploring Prague in Kafka’s footsteps: where did Franz Kafka live and work, where did he spend his leisure time? A photo tour.

Photo: Petr Machan; © Goethe-Institut Czech Republic House at the Tower, Franz Kafka Square 3

Sexuality In Bed with Kafka

Franz Kafka’s complicated relationship with his sexuality has been a topic of constant speculation and analysis. We have reviewed his letters and experts’ opinions to try to clarify things.

© Víctor Millán/Ideogram.ai Franz Kafka, generated with the Ideogram AI tool

In the Sanatorium Kafka’s Final Days

Franz Kafka was only 40 years old in the spring of 1924 when he was admitted to a private clinic in Kierling, just outside of Vienna. The building has not changed, except for its relationship to world literature.

© Sonia Dauer / Unsplash Kafka’s Final Days

We all love Kafka forever

Video report from Prague A tourist trap called Kafka

Thousands of tourists come to Prague every year and the city has a lot to offer them. Including lots of Kafka kitsch. Find out in this video report what the Kafka knowledge of Prague tourists is like!

Videostill; © Goethe-Institut Czech Republic Kafka postcards

Everything’s well regulated Bureaucracy

What’s the most effective way for a family to manage the children’s screentime? By enforcing rules – simple ones initially.  It quickly takes on Kafkaesque proportions. Some observations on bureaucracy by Maximilian Buddenbohm.

Photo (detail): © mauritius images / STOCK4B / Felbert+Eickenberg Confusing traffic lights in front of a tower

Serious Game Playing Kafka

Immerse yourself in Kafka’s worlds and experience what it’s like to be a Kafka character. A video game brings Franz Kafka’s literary cosmos to life in virtual space.

© Charles Games © Goethe-Institut / Charles Games Video Game Playing Kafka

Kafka’s humour The big laugher

Kafka is a writer of dark, nightmarish tales? – Perhaps, yes. But this is too superficial a view. Let us embark on a quest for the comical in Kafka.

© Verlag Klaus Wagenbach Staircase in the house at Zeltnergasse 3, Prague

Kafkaesque Kafka’s traces in the Czech language

Almost everyone knows the word “Kafkaesque”. In Czech, there is a whole range of other Kafka vocabulary – such as “not enough of Kafka”.

Collage: Tobias Schrank Kafka’s traces in the Czech language

Kafka's style Kafka in the everyday language

Individual authors can characterise a style concept. But what exactly does it mean to have a style, and why has the name Kafka entered the vernacular like no other? A look at art and philosophy. 

© Isi Parente / Unsplash Kafka and the Absurdities of Modern Life

Franz Kafka A literary land surveyor?

Franz Kafka – in the capacity of civil servant and patient, author and human being – was certainly well aware of the diverse aspects of rural living. His works are absolutely overflowing with images and stories from village and country life.

© Archiv Klaus Wagenbach From right: Kafka; his secretary Julie Kaiser, who visited him in November 1917; sister Ottla; cousin Irma; Mařenka, a helper from the village of Siřem (Zürau). November 1917