In 1883, Franz Kafka was born in Prague, by which point nearly one hundred years of “National Revival” had come to pass. This meant that as part of a German-Jewish family, with strong Czech roots, Kafka was thrown into the middle of a heated clash between ethnicities, who not only struggled to maintain and promote their own cultural identities, but also to keep up with the rapid changes brought on by the industrial revolution across Europe”.
“As if he had no choice, as if the metropolis clung to him madly, Kafka took it all in, made it his own, and found that he could never leave for long.”
He spoke both German and Czech and studied law at Charles University of Prague, where he obtained a law degree in 1906. Kafka wrote on the side while he worked for an accident insurance agency until he began to suffer from tuberculosis in 1917 and went into the care of his family, especially his beloved sister Ottilie or “Ottla.” Kafka suffered from chronic illness, such as insomnia, migranes, constipation, and boils, for which he continually sought a variety of naturopathic remedies, like vegetarianism and large quantities of unpasteurized milk.
At school, he promoted and supported yiddish theatre. His relationship with his father is an ongoing theme in his writing, as is his love affair with journalist/writer Milena Jenenská during the early 1920s and later Dora Dymant.
Kafka died in a sanitarium near Vienna in 1924, where he was interned to cope with his worsening tuberculosis. Kafka's writing had not attracted much attention during his lifetime and he had instructed his friends to destroy all of his manuscripts after his death. Dymant followed Kafka's instructions, but his friends Max Brod did not. After Brod published most of the works that are in circulation today, Kafka's writing attracked both critical and popular review.