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35 True Quotes by Franz Kafka

Last updated on Jul 2nd, 2018

35 True Quotes by Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka (born July 3, 1883, Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary – died June 3, 1924, Kierling, Austria) was a German-language novelist and short story writer, regarded as one of the most important authors of the 20th century. His unique body of writing is considered to be among the most influential in Western literature.

Kafka’s best-known works include Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), Betrachtung (Meditation), Der Process (The Trial), Das Schloss (The Castle), and Amerika. Main themes of his novels and short stories are alienation, absurdity, guilt, and existential anxiety.

During his lifetime, Kafka published just a few of his writings and was known only to a smaller group of readers.  Although Kafka demanded that his unpublished manuscripts be destroyed, his friend Max Brod published most of them after Kafka’s death.

1
Youth is happy, because it has the ability to see beauty. When this ability is lost, wretched old age begins, decay, unhappiness.Conversations with Kafka: notes and reminiscences by Gustav Janouch (1953)
2
Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached.'Reflections: Aphorisms 5,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
3
It is often safer to be in chains than to be free.'Chapter VIII: Block, the Tradesman—Dismissal of the Lawyer,' The Trial (1925) (1957)
4
Hiding places there are innumerable, escape is only one, but possibilities of escape, again, are as many as hiding places.'Reflections: Aphorisms 26,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)

One of the first signs of the beginnings of understanding is the wish to die. - Franz Kafka Quotes

5
One of the first signs of the beginnings of understanding is the wish to die.'Reflections: Aphorisms 13,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
6
In the struggle between yourself and the world second the world.'Reflections: Aphorisms 52,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
7
The mediation by the serpent was necessary: Evil can seduce man, but cannot become man.'Reflections: Aphorisms 51,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
8
You have to hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world: this is something you are free to do and is in accord with your nature, but perhaps precisely this holding back is the only suffering that you might be able to avoid.'Reflections: Aphorisms 103,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
9
Believing in progress does not mean believing that progress has yet been made. That is not the sort of belief that indicates real faith.'Reflections: Aphorisms 48,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)

We would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But 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 Quotes

10
We would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But 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.Letter to Oskar Pollak (January 27, 1904)
11
You are free and that is why you are lost.'Fragments from Notebooks and Losse Pages,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
12
A belief is like a guillotine—as heavy, as light.'Reflections: Aphorisms 87,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
13
Association with human beings lures one into self-observation.'Reflections: Aphorisms 77,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
14
There is no need for you to leave the house. Stay at your table and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t even wait, be completely quiet and alone. The world will offer itself to you to be unmasked; it can’t do otherwise; in raptures it will writhe before you.'Reflections: Aphorisms 109,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)

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 Quotes

15
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.'The Eight Octavo Notebooks,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
16
Don’t despair, not even over the fact that you don’t despair.'Diaries 1913 - July 21,' The Diaries Of Franz Kafka (1948)
17
A non-writing writer is a monster inviting madness.Letter to Max Brod (July 5, 1922)
18
Logic is doubtless unshakable, but it cannot withstand a man who wants to go on living.'Chapter X: The End,' The Trial (1925)
19
The history of mankind is the instant between two strides taken by a traveler.'The Eight Octavo Notebooks,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)

Idleness is the beginning of all vice, the crown of all virtues. - Franz Kafka Quotes

20
Idleness is the beginning of all vice, the crown of all virtues.'The Eight Octavo Notebooks,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
21
The Revolution evaporates, and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.Conversations with Kafka: notes and reminiscences by Gustav Janouch (1953)
22
Most men are not wicked. Men become bad and guilty because they speak and act without foreseeing the results of their words and their deeds. They are sleepwalkers, not evildoers.Conversations with Kafka: notes and reminiscences by Gustav Janouch (1953)
23
If a man has his eyes bound, you can encourage him as much as you like to stare through the bandage, but he’ll never see anything.'The Fifteenth Chapter,' The Castle (1926)
24
One must fight to get to the top, especially when one begins at the bottom?'The Thirteenth Chapter,' The Castle (1926)

Sleep is the most innocent creature there is and a sleepless man the most guilty. - Franz Kafka Quotes

25
Sleep is the most innocent creature there is and a sleepless man the most guilty.Letter to Milena (April-May 1920)
26
An ignorant man thinks everything possible.'The Fourth Chapter,' The Castle (1926)
27
Psychology is the description of the reflection of the terrestrial world in the heavenly plane, or, more correctly, the description of a reflection such as we, soaked as we are in our terrestrial nature, imagine it, for no reflection actually occurs, only we see earth wherever we turn.'The Eight Octavo Notebooks,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
28
Religions get lost as people do.'The Eight Octavo Notebooks,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
29
Tyranny or slavery, born of selfishness, are the two educational methods of parents; all gradations of tyranny or slavery.Letter to Elli Hermann (Prague, autumn 1921)

There are two main human sins, from which all the others derive: impatience and indolence. - Franz Kafka Quotes

30
There are two main human sins, from which all the others derive: impatience and indolence.'Reflections: Aphorisms 3,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
31
One tells as few lies as possible only by telling as few lies as possible, and not by having the least possible opportunity to do so.'Reflections: Aphorisms 58,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
32
Woman, or more precisely put, perhaps, marriage, is the representative of life with which you are meant to come to terms.'The Eight Octavo Notebooks,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
33
Evil is whatever distracts.'The Eight Octavo Notebooks,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)
34
The right perception of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other.'Chapter IX: In the Cathedral,' The Trial (1925)

He who seeks does not find, but he who does not seek will be found. - Franz Kafka Quotes

35
He who seeks does not find, but he who does not seek will be found.'The Eight Octavo Notebooks,' Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (1954)