All Time Famous Franz Kafka Quotes

Franz Kafka Quotes

Franz Kafka[a] (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was a German-speaking Bohemian-Jewish novelist and short-story writer based in Prague, who is widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. Kafka’s writing blends realism and the bizarre, presenting isolated characters navigating strange situations amidst incomprehensible authority. Often interpreted as explorations of alienation, anxiety, and the absurdity of life, his works like “The Metamorphosis” and “The Trial” have become renowned for their unsettling scenarios and the “Kafkaesque” label they inspired.

Born into a complex cultural and political environment, Franz Kafka led a double life – a lawyer by day and a prolific writer by night. Despite burning most of his work and seeking obscurity, his friend defied his wishes and published his remaining writings, which later gained international acclaim for their exploration of alienation, anxiety, and absurdity in the modern world.

Franz Kafka Quotes

1. “Paths are made by walking.”
— Franz Kafka

2. “I am free and that is why I am lost.”
— Franz Kafka

3. “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
— Franz Kafka

4. “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

5. “Evil is whatever distracts.”
— Franz Kafka

6. “There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness.”
— Franz Kafka

7. “Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
— Franz Kafka

8. “Everything that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”
— Franz Kafka

9. “I am a cage, in search of a bird.”
— Franz Kafka

10. “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

11. “Most men are not wicked. They are sleepwalkers, not evil evildoers.”
— Franz Kafka

12. “The meaning of life is that it stops.”
— Franz Kafka

13. “Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.”
— Franz Kafka

14. “Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you anymore.”
— Franz Kafka

15. “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”
— Franz Kafka

16. “Follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
— Franz Kafka

17. “Slept, awoke, slept, awoke, miserable life.”
— Franz Kafka

18. “I have spent all my life resisting the desire to end it.”
— Franz Kafka

19. “I lack nothing. I only needed myself.”
— 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. “Better to have, and not need than to need, and not have.”
— Franz Kafka

22. “I miss you deeply, unfathomably, senselessly, terribly.”
— Franz Kafka

23. “If you find someone who makes you smile, who checks up on you often to see if you’re okay. Who watches out or 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

24. “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

25. “Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.”
— Franz Kafka

26. “I never wish to be easily defined.”
— Franz Kafka

27. “All that you are seeking is also seeking you.”
— Franz Kafka

28. “Isolation is a way to know ourselves.”
— Franz Kafka

29. “There are times when I am convinced I am unfit for any human relationship.”
— Franz Kafka

30. “I no longer know If I wish to drown myself in love, vodka or the sea.”
— Franz Kafka

31. “By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.”
— Franz Kafka

32. “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

33. “I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.”
— Franz Kafka

34. “Do not waste your time looking for an obstacle – maybe there is none.”
— Franz Kafka

35. “A lawyer is a person who writes a 10,000-word document and calls it a “brief.”
— Franz Kafka

36. “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us.”
— Franz Kafka

37. “I can love only what I can place so high above me that I cannot reach it.”
— Franz Kafka

38. “From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.”
— Franz Kafka

39. “All language is but a poor translation.”
— Franz Kafka

40. “Love is a drama of contradictions.”
— Franz Kafka

41. “A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.”
— Franz Kafka

42. “God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them.”
— Franz Kafka

43. “Some books seem like a key to unfamiliar rooms in one’s own castle.”
— Franz Kafka

44. “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.”
— Franz Kafka

45. “In the fight between you and the world, back the world.”
— Franz Kafka

46. “What if I slept a little more and forgot about all this nonsense.”
— Franz Kafka

47. “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

48. “A book should serve as an axe to the ice inside us.”
— Franz Kafka

49. “So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.”
— Franz Kafka

50. “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

51. “I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy.”
— Franz Kafka

52. “First impressions are always unreliable.”
— Franz Kafka

53. “He who seeks does not find, but he who does not seek will be found.”
— Franz Kafka

54. “In man’s struggle against the world, bet on the world.”
— Franz Kafka

55. “If you become involved with me, you will be throwing yourself into the abyss.”
— Franz Kafka

56. “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
— Franz Kafka

57. “The man in ecstasy and the man drowning: both raise their arms.”
— 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. “I am in chains. Don’t touch my chains.”
— Franz Kafka

60. “I am more uncertain than I ever was; I feel only the power of life. And I am senselessly empty.”
— Franz Kafka

61. “One idiot is one idiot. Two idiots are two idiots. Ten thousand idiots are a political party.”
— Franz Kafka

62. “Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.”
— Franz Kafka

63. “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

64. “All human errors are impatience, a premature breaking off of methodical procedure, an apparent fencing-in of what is apparently at issue.”
— Franz Kafka

65. “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

66. “To write prescriptions is easy, but to come to an understanding with people is hard.”
— Franz Kafka

67. “Writing means revealing oneself to excess.”
— Franz Kafka

68. “Simply wait, be quiet, still The world will freely offer itself to you.”
— 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. “One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer.”
— Franz Kafka

71. “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

72. “Suffering is the positive element in this world, indeed it is the only link between this world and the positive.”
— Franz Kafka

73. “The thornbush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further.”
— Franz Kafka

74. “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

75. “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

76. “We are separated from God on two sides; the Fall separates us from Him, the Tree of Life separates Him from us.”
— Franz Kafka

77. “One reads in order to ask questions.”
— Franz Kafka

78. “No one can crave what truly harms him.”
— Franz Kafka

79. “I was ashamed of myself when I realized life was a costume party and I attended with my real face.”
— Franz Kafka

80. “Believing in progress does not mean believing that any progress has yet been made.”
— Franz Kafka

81. “Logic may indeed be unshakeable, but it cannot withstand a man who is determined to live.”
— Franz Kafka

82. “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

83. “You are so vulnerably haunting. Your eeriness is terrifyingly irresistible.”
— Franz Kafka

84. “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

85. “Not everyone can see the truth, but he can be it.”
— Franz Kafka

86. “The dream reveals the reality which conception lags behind. That is the horror of the terror of art.”
— Franz Kafka

87. “Celibacy and suicide are similar levels of understanding, suicide, and a martyr’s death not so by any means, perhaps marriage and a martyr’s death.”
— Franz Kafka

88. “The mediation by the serpent was necessary. Evil can seduce man, but cannot become man.”
— Franz Kafka

89. “Every dog has like me the impulse to question, and I have like every dog the impulse not to answer.”
— 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. “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

92. “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

93. “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

94. “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

95. “There are questions we could not get past if we were not set free from them by our very nature.”
— Franz Kafka

96. “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

97. “Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.”
— Franz Kafka

98. “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

99. “Love is, that you are the knife which I plunge into myself.”
— Franz Kafka

100. “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

101. “Either the world is so tiny or we are enormous; in either case, we fill it completely.”
— Franz Kafka

102. “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

103. “The spirit becomes free only when it ceases to be a support.”
— Franz Kafka

104. “This noble body, equipped with everything necessary, almost to the point of bursting, also appeared to carry freedom around with it.”
— Franz Kafka

105. “You are at once both the quiet and the confusion of my heart.”
— Franz Kafka

106. “All knowledge, the totality of all questions and answers, is contained in the dog.”
— Franz Kafka

107. “What am I doing here in this endless winter?”
— Franz Kafka

108. “Don Quixote’s misfortune is not his imagination, but Sancho Panza.”
— Franz Kafka

109. “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

110. “He is terribly afraid of dying because he hasn’t yet lived.”
— Franz Kafka

111. “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

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. “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

114. “Writing is prayer.”
— Franz Kafka

115. “I don’t feel particularly proud of myself. But when I walk alone in the woods or lie in the meadows, all is well.”
— Franz Kafka

116. “The Messiah will only come when he is no longer needed.”
— Franz Kafka

117. “I do not see the world at all; I invent it.”
— Franz Kafka

118. “Anybody who preserves the ability to recognize beauty will never get old.”
— Franz Kafka

119. “We live in an age which is so possessed by demons, that soon we shall only be able to do goodness and justice in the deepest secrecy, as if it were a crime.”
— Franz Kafka

120. “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

121. “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

122. “Only the moment counts. It determines life.”
— Franz Kafka

123. “Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”
— Franz Kafka

124. “Kill me, or you are a murderer.”
— Franz Kafka

125. “The truth is always an abyss.”
— Franz Kafka

126. “The cruelty of death lies in the fact that it brings the real sorrow of the end, but not the end. The greatest cruelty of death: an apparent end causes a real sorrow. Our salvation is death, but not this one.”
— Franz Kafka

127. “All I am is literature, and I am not able or willing to be anything else.”
— Franz Kafka

128. “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

129. “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

130. “Some deny the existence of misery by pointing to the sun; he denies the existence of the sun by pointing to misery.”
— Franz Kafka

131. “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

132. “I am too tired, I must try to rest and sleep, otherwise I am lost in every respect. What an effort to keep alive! Erecting a monument does not require an expenditure of so much strength.”
— Franz Kafka

133. “It is often safer to be in chains than to be free.”
— Franz Kafka

134. “Dread of night. Dread of not-night.”
— Franz Kafka

135. “Work as joy, inaccessible to the psychologists.”
— Franz Kafka

136. “Why do we complain about the Fall? It is not on its account that we were expelled from Paradise, but on account of the Tree of Life, lest we might eat of it.”
— Franz Kafka

137. “Don’t be too optimistic, the light at the end of the tunnel might be a train.”
— Franz Kafka

138. “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

139. “My ‘fear’ is my substance, and probably the best part of me.”
— Franz Kafka

140. “I am a retiring, silent, unsociable, and discontent person.”
— Franz Kafka

141. “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

142. “In a certain sense, the Good is comfortless.”
— Franz Kafka

143. “Art is for the artist is only suffering through which he releases himself for further suffering.”
— Franz Kafka

144. “There are only two things. Truth and lies. Truth is indivisible, hence it cannot recognize itself; anyone who wants to recognize it has to be a lie.”
— Franz Kafka

145. “You can choose to be free, but it’s the last decision you’ll ever make.”
— Franz Kafka

146. “Please – consider me a dream.”
— Franz Kafka

147. “Last night I dreamed about you. What happened in detail I can hardly remember, all I know is that we kept merging into one another. I was you, you were me. Finally, you somehow caught fire.”
— Franz Kafka

148. “If I shall exist eternally, how shall I exist tomorrow?”
— Franz Kafka

149. “The indestructible is one: it is each individual human being and, at the same time, it is common to all, hence the incomparably indivisible union that exists between human beings.”
— Franz Kafka

150. “The right understanding of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other.”
— Franz Kafka

 

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