On July 3, 1883, Hermann and Julie Kafka became parents to Franz Kafka. In the next couple of years, they would give birth to two other sons who both died within the first year of their life. Franz eventually did have siblings and they grew up together being raised by several governesses, which was a common thing at the time. Since early childhood, Franz has been described as introverted and reserved. He was a very bright young boy, excelled in his schooling and was constantly reading. It was around 1898 when Kafka is believed to have first begun writing in a serious manner. Through his young adulthood Kafka did not have a very stable career, quitting jobs that he felt had too many hours he finally settled on one in which he worked 2-8 hours a day. He would use his time to think and write and also pursued other hobbies, such as his passion for Yiddish Theatre. During this time, he and his father would clash regularly. His father did not seem to approve of his hobbies or his personality, “[thinking] his son was too eccentric, with his vegetarianism and quiet nature”. His father may have been right to feel this way, for it is known that Kafka was a very ‘complex’ person. He was extremely contradictory in his beliefs and actions and was a bit of an extremist in certain aspects of his life. In his twenties, Kafka was known to be very sexual in nature. He is noted to have had numerous one-night-stands with women and also go to local whorehouses. At the same time, he himself has noted that he found sex “absolutely repulsive and disgusting”. In reading more about Kafka, it becomes very apparent that he must have had certain psychological issues that caused him to be eccentric.
His opinion on women and sex changed almost instantly when he met Felice Bauer. He fell in love with her, writing her love letters – many in which he rants about his own insecurities and negative feelings. These letters already pose a question about Kafka’s intentions, did he truly love Felice or was their relationship an extension of his psychological issues? Soon after falling in love with Felice, Kafka had an affair with an 18-year-old Swiss girl. Kafka was basically all over the place; mentally, physically and emotionally. Althought he would write love letters to the swiss girl, he continued to pursue Felice. In his letters he would express his love and then revert back to how terrible of a person he felt he was. In one of these self-deprecating letters, he proposed to Felice and she accepted.
Kafka continued to have affairs with women, and is even rumored to have had an illegitimate child. During this back and forth drama in his love life, he began writing The Trial which he would continue to work on sporadically throughout 1914 and 1916. During all of these he had been writing short stories and other writings and was also showing his bizarre tendencies in other outlets. Although engaged to Felice and constantly having affairs, Kafka was still repulsed by sex and marriage. After a rough engagement Felice finally called off the marriage. Kafka also considered going to war to fight in World War II however claimed to have hated both sides equally. Many conflicts in Kafka’s life were self-induced and quite frankly weird. He did not appear very coherent in any forms of thought yet would produce writings that are and forever will be literary classics.
However mentally unstable, Kafka’s health was much, much worse. In August of 1917 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis after coughing up blood on a trip to Budapest. He later was engaged again, continued to have affairs and became very connected to one of his friends’ wife. She and him would write to each other constantly and she appeared to be the only one that truly claimed to understand him, his feelings and his motives. His healthy began to worsen dramatically and he spent the remainder of his life on bed-rest. On June 3, 1924 he passed away with his latest ‘love interest’ by his side.
“Franz Kafka Biography.” Kafka-Franz. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.kafka-franz.com/kafka-Biography.htm>.