Franz Kafka, born July 3, 1883, was a German-speaking Jewish writer from Prague.
His family life was marked by a domineering father, Hermann and a hardworking, educated mother, Julie.
Kafka attended German schools, demonstrating his father’s desire for social elevation and later graduated from Charles Ferdinand University with a Law degree.
His work life began in an Italian insurance company and continued in the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia, a role he kept until his health declined.
His passion was literature and he struggled to balance it with his career.
Kafka’s personal life was marked by a failed engagement to Felice Bauer and a significant relationship with journalist Milena Jesenská.
He spent his final years battling illness due to tuberculosis and other health related issues.
Despite these challenges, he remained devoted to his writing until his death on June 3, 1924.
I have handpicked the top quotes by Franz Kafka in this article.
Best Franz Kafka Quotes
1. “I am free and that is why I am lost.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
2. “The meaning of life is that it stops.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
3. “I am a cage, in search of a bird.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
4. “There are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
5. “Most men are not wicked. They are sleepwalkers, not evil evildoers.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
6. “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
7. “Paths are made by walking.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
8. “Evil is whatever distracts.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
9. “Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
10. “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
11. “Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
12. “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
13. “Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
14. “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
15. “Everything that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
16. “Slept, awoke, slept, awoke, miserable life.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
17. “I lack nothing. I only needed myself.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
18. “I have spent all my life resisting the desire to end it.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
19. “Follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
20. “I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
21. “I miss you deeply, unfathomably, senselessly, terribly.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
22. “Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
23. “If the literature we are reading does not wake us, why then do we read it? A literary work must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
24. “Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
25. “I never wish to be easily defined.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
Popular Franz Kafka Quotes
26. “All that you are seeking is also seeking you.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
27. “There are times when I am convinced I am unfit for any human relationship.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
28. “If you find someone who makes you smile, who checks up on you often to see if you’re okay. Who watches out for you and wants the best for you. Who loves and respects you. Don’t let them go. People like that are hard to find.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
29. “I’m tired, can’t think of anything and want only to lay my face in your lap, feel your hand on my head and remain like that through all eternity.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
30. “I no longer know If I wish to drown myself in love, vodka or the sea.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
31. “I can love only what I can place so high above me that I cannot reach it.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
32. “Isolation is a way to know ourselves.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
33. “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
34. “By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
35. “Do not waste your time looking for an obstacle – maybe there is none.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
36. “I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
37. “Love is a drama of contradictions.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
38. “God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
39. “All language is but a poor translation.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
40. “A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
41. “From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
42. “A lawyer is a person who writes a 10,000-word document and calls it a “brief.”” ~ (Franz Kafka).
Top Franz Kafka Quotes
43. “In the fight between you and the world, back the world.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
44. “A book should serve as an axe to the ice inside us.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
45. “So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
46. “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
47. “What if I slept a little more and forgot about all this nonsense.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
48. “He who seeks does not find, but he who does not seek will be found.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
49. “First impressions are always unreliable.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
50. “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
51. “I never wish to be easily defined. I’d rather float over other people’s minds as something strictly fluid and non-perceivable; more like a transparent, paradoxically iridescent creature rather than an actual person.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
52. “I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
53. “Some books seem like a key to unfamiliar rooms in one’s own castle.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
54. “We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
55. “I am more uncertain than I ever was; I feel only the power of life. And I am senselessly empty.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
56. “The man in ecstasy and the man drowning: both raise their arms.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
57. “In man’s struggle against the world, bet on the world.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
58. “I need solitude for my writing; not ‘like a hermit’ – that wouldn’t be enough – but like a dead man.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
59. “If you become involved with me, you will be throwing yourself into the abyss.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
60. “I am in chains. Don’t touch my chains.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
Famous Franz Kafka Quotes
61. “All human errors are impatience, a premature breaking off of methodical procedure, an apparent fencing-in of what is apparently at issue.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
62. “Writing means revealing oneself to excess.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
63. “Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
64. “To write prescriptions is easy, but to come to an understanding with people is hard.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
65. “Simply wait, be quiet, still The world will freely offer itself to you.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
66. “One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
67. “You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
68. “The thornbush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
69. “The Fathers of the Church were not afraid to go out into the desert because they had a richness in their hearts. But we, with richness all around us, are afraid, because the desert is in our hearts.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
70. “We are separated from God on two sides; the Fall separates us from Him, the Tree of Life separates Him from us.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
71. “If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it?” ~ (Franz Kafka).
72. “No one can crave what truly harms him.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
73. “We were expelled from Paradise, but it was not destroyed. The expulsion from Paradise was in one sense a piece of good fortune, for if we had not been expelled, Paradise would have had to be destroyed.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
74. “Suffering is the positive element in this world, indeed it is the only link between this world and the positive.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
75. “Believing in progress does not mean believing that any progress has yet been made.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
76. “One reads in order to ask questions.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
77. “The truth is always an abyss. One must – as in a swimming pool – dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again – laughing and fighting for breath – to the now doubly illuminated surface of things.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
78. “Not everyone can see the truth, but he can be it.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
79. “Hold fast to the diary from today on! Write regularly! Don’t surrender! Even if no salvation should come, I want to be worthy of it every moment.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
80. “Logic may indeed be unshakeable, but it cannot withstand a man who is determined to live.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
81. “Celibacy and suicide are a similar levels of understanding, suicide and a martyr’s death not so by any means, perhaps marriage and a martyr’s death.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
82. “Evil is the radiation of the human consciousness in certain transitional positions. It is not actually the sensual world that is a mere appearance; what is so is the evil of it, which, admittedly, is what constitutes the sensual world in our eyes.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
83. “You are so vulnerably haunting. Your eeriness is terrifyingly irresistible.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
84. “Every dog has like me the impulse to question, and I have like every dog the impulse not to answer.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
85. “The mediation by the serpent was necessary. Evil can seduce man, but cannot become man.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
86. “Death confronts us not unlike the historical battle scene that hangs on the wall of the classroom. It is our task to obscure or quite obliterate the picture by our deeds while we are still in this world.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
87. “The dream reveals the reality which conception lags behind. That is the horror of life-the terror of art.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
88. “It would have been so pointless to kill himself that, even if he had wanted to, the pointlessness would have made him unable.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
89. “Picasso only registers the deformities which have not yet penetrated our consciousness. Art is a mirror which goes ‘fast’ like a watch – sometimes.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
90. “Tyranny or slavery, born of selfishness, are the two educational methods of parents; all gradations of tyranny or slavery.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
91. “The person I am in the company of my sisters has been entirely different from the person I am in the company of other people. Fearless, powerful, surprising, moved as I otherwise am only when I write.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
92. “There are questions we could not get past if we were not set free from them by our very nature.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
93. “How pathetically scanty my self-knowledge is compared with, say, my knowledge of my room. There is no such thing as observation of the inner world, as there is of the outer world.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
94. “There is nothing besides a spiritual world; what we call the world of the senses is the Evil in the spiritual world, and what we call Evil is only the necessity of a moment in our eternal evolution.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
95. “Either the world is so tiny or we are enormous; in either case, we fill it completely.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
96. “For everything outside the phenomenal world, language can only be used allusively, but never even approximately in a comparative way, since, corresponding as it does to the phenomenal world, it is concerned only with property and its relations.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
97. “I believe that we should only read those books that bite and sting us. If a book does not rouse us with a blow then why read it?” ~ (Franz Kafka).
980. “This noble body, equipped with everything necessary, almost to the point of bursting, also appeared to carry freedom around with it.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
Short Franz Kafka Quotes
99. “Love is, that you are the knife which I plunge into myself.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
100. “Life is merely terrible; I feel it as few others do. Often – and in my inmost self perhaps all the time – I doubt whether I am a human being.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
101. “The spirit becomes free only when it ceases to be a support.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
102. “To every instant there is a correspondence in something outside time. This world here and now cannot be followed by a Beyond, for the Beyond is eternal, hence it cannot be in temporal contact with this world here and now.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
103. “What am I doing here in this endless winter?” ~ (Franz Kafka).
104. “All knowledge, the totality of all questions and answers, is contained in the dog.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
105. “In a way, you are poetry material; You are full of cloudy subtleties I am willing to spend a lifetime figuring out. Words burst in your essence and you carry their dust in the pores of your ethereal individuality.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
106. “Don Quixote’s misfortune is not his imagination, but Sancho Panza.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
107. “Anybody who preserves the ability to recognize beauty will never get old.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
108. “Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
109. “You are at once both the quiet and the confusion of my heart.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
110. “Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
111. “Kill me, or you are a murderer.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
112. “I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
113. “He is terribly afraid of dying because he hasn’t yet lived.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
114. “All I am is literature, and I am not able or willing to be anything else.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
115. “Writing is a deeper sleep than death. Just as one wouldn’t pull a corpse from its grave, I can’t be dragged from my desk at night.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
116. “It isn’t necessary that you leave home. Sit at your desk and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t wait, be still and alone. The whole world will offer itself to you.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
117. “I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you. I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
118. “This tremendous world I have inside of me. How to free myself, and this world, without tearing myself to pieces. And rather tear myself to a thousand pieces than be buried with this world within me.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
119. “I see, these books are probably law books, and it is an essential part of the justice dispensed here that you should be condemned not only in innocence but also in ignorance.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
120. “The more horses you yoke the quicker everything will go – not the rending of the block from its foundation, which is impossible, but the snapping of the traces and with that the gay and empty journey.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
121. “Please – consider me a dream.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
122. “I do not speak as I think, I do not think as I should, and so it all goes on in helpless darkness.” ~ (Franz Kafka).
123. “That’s how it will be, except that in reality, both today and later, one will stand there with a palpable body and a real head, a real forehead, that is, for smiting on with one’s hand.” ~ (Franz Kafka).