Franz Kafka was born in Prague 130 years ago on this day. And even though it took decades after his death in 1924 at the age of 40 for “Kafkaesque” to become a word we overused to describe concepts and situations reminiscent of Kafka’s fiction, he has gone on to become not only one of the most studied authors of the 20th century, but also one who continues to inspire plenty of writers, directors, and artists to comment and emulate his work. If you’re looking to celebrate the great writer’s birth, here are a few great options.
This video featuring some of Kafka’s book covers, made by his publisher, Schocken, could be a nice way to start things off.
“Perhaps Kafka, whose every day on earth brought him up against insoluble behavior problems and undecipherable communications, in death wished to give his contemporaries a taste of their own medicine.”
Read Walter Benjamin’s thoughts on Kafka, and then read everything else Benjamin ever wrote.
Google something. Today’s Google Doodle pays tribute to Kafka’s birthday.
Read Rodger Kamenetz’s fascinating Burnt Books, which takes a look at Kafka’s interest in Jewish mysticism.
Watch Steven Soderbergh’s 1991 movie Kafka, just so you can prepare yourself for how much better the new cut of the film will probably be.
Read Matthue Roth’s My First Kafka to one of your much younger friends.
Read The Street of Crocodiles, written by the man described as the Polish Kafka, Bruno Schulz.
Watch Orson Welles’s 1962 film adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial, about which Welles said, “Say what you like, but The Trial is my greatest work, even greater than Citizen Kane.”
Listen to the Philip Glass chamber opera, In The Penal Colony, which is based on the Kafka short story of the same name.