Franz Kafka, a German-language prose writer of early 20th century, is regarded by critics as one of the most influential authors. Kafka strongly influenced genres such as existentialism and (post)modernism. His works explore the themes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, existential anxiety, guilt and absurdity. His works feature isolated protagonists on a terrifying quest facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments, incomprehensible labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations. The term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe situations like those found in his writing.
Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today the capital of the Czech Republic. Franz was the eldest of the six children born to Hermann and Julie. His two brothers, Georg and Heinrich, died in infancy before Franz was seven; his three sisters were Gabriele ("Ellie") (1889–1944), Valerie ("Valli") (1890–1942) and Ottilie ("Ottla") (1892–1943). All three died during the Holocaust of World War II. Valli was deported to the Łódź Ghetto in occupied Poland in 1942, but that is the last documentation of her. Ottilie was Kafka's favourite sister.
(to be continued)