Five Things I Learned at the Franz Kafka Museum in Prague

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Kafka memorial statue in Prague outside the Spanish Synagogue.

1. Franz Kafka never finished a novel. The Metamorphosis, his seminal work, was a novella. The Trial and The Castle were never completed. Kafka had written the ending to The Trial and his friend Max Brod edited the novel and published it ten years after Kafka’s death.

2. In The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa did not turn into a cockroach as many English translations imply. He turned into a vermin. Many people believe that this referred to Kafka himself who suffered from Tuberculosis.

2. Kafka died before finishing The Castle but hinted that K. would die in the village. On his deathbed, K. would finally discover he was allowed to live and work in the village. This novel was thought to be about alienation and bureaucracy, a common theme in Kafka’s work.

3. When viewing the town square in Prague, Kafka once traced his finger in a circle and said, “This narrow circle encompasses my entire life.”

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Old Town Square-View from the Clock Tower.

4. Kafka struggled with a work-life balance. He was a lawyer and like many writers resented the hours he spent at his “day” job.  He wrote extensively about the bureaucracy and complained that he labored up to six hours a day.  (Only 6 hours a day.)



5. Kafka sketched. The picture above shows the angst he felt when working at his day job.

Finally, writing was the most important thing in Kafka’s life. He said, ” A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”

How true.

If you are ever in Prague, I hope you will visit the Kafka museum. It is marvelously done.




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