Alienation and isolation are words that are associated with Franz Kafka. His life, novels, and short stories are living proof of it. Franz Kafka was not a voluminous writer but whatever he wrote left an impact. You will find love, fear, existentialism, and much different emotion in Kafka’s books. I come here with a list of the best books by Franz Kafka.
Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer. He was considered one of the major writers of the 20th century. His work features isolated protagonists in bizarre situations. Most of his work is written in German. All the work that was published during his lifetime managed to grab public attention. Kafka was greatly influenced by Von Kleist, whom he considered closer than his own family.
The Best Books by Franz Kafka are:
- The Metamorphosis
- The trial
- The Office Writings
- In The Penal Colony
- The Castle
All these books are great to read. Read further to know more about the these books.
Best Books by Franz Kafka
The Meatmorphosis ( Die Verwandlung: German) is a novella written by Franz Kafka. The book was published in 1915. It still holds the same prominence among the readers as in the 20th century. The book narrates the story of a salesman Gregor Samsa. Gregor Samsa wakes up one day and finds himself changed into a huge insect.
The books had so many different interpretations among the literary critics. The protagonist of the story is Gregor Samsa who is transferred into an insect overnight. Initially, he thinks that the change is temporary. But the consequences take him back. Gregor had quit his job as a result of the transformation.
The interpretation of the novella tends to entail the use of religious and psychological. The story is often read as an expression of Kafka’s father complex. Apart from the psychological aspect, the novella can also be read by focusing on the sociological aspects. However, few critics like Vladimir Nabokov reject such interpretations, considering that they are no way near Kafka’s art.
Kafka’s The Trial is heavily influenced by Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. The novel was written between 1914 and 1915 and published; after his death in 1925. The novel revolves around the story of the protagonist Joseph K. He is prosecuted and arrested by a remote authority.
The authorities who have arrested Joseph K. are inaccessible. Even the crimes of Joseph K. are either revealed to him or the readers throughout the novel. The story begins on the 30th birthday of the protagonist. Two agents arrests Joseph K. for some unknown crimes. However, he is not imprisoned but left “free” to wait for further instructions from the Committee of Affairs. The story takes mysterious turns and Joseph K. ends up being dead.
The Trial can also be interpreted in many ways. The literary critics have not agreed on one clear-cut interpretation. The novel is majorly interpreted with five perspectives, they are biographical, historical-critical, religious, sociological, psychoanalytical.
The Office Writings
The Office Writings is a collection of articles, essays, and letters written by Franz Kafka. He wrote the collection; The Office Writings during the years when he was working as a high-ranking lawyer. Like most of his works, The Office Writings was also written in German. The book was edited by Stanley Corngold, Jack Greenberg, and Benno Wagner. It was translated by Eric Patton and Ruth Hein.
The book contains some of the very famous essays by Franz Kafka. This book is a must-read if you already Kafka’s work.
In The Penal Colony
In The Penal Colony ( In der Strafkolonie: German) was written by Franz Kafka in German. The story set in an unnamed penal colony. Although, some clues suggest that the setting is Octave Mirbeau’s The Torture Garden. Similar to the name of the garden, Kafka has used elaborate torture and execution devices. He used these devices to crave the sentence of the condemned prisoner on his skin before letting him die. All of this was done in the course of 12 hours.
The novel has only four characters who are named according to their roles in the story. The story entirely focuses on a traveler on whom the devices are used for the first time. This book is also read by focusing on the religious aspects. The officer in the story can be a representation of Jesus and his sacrifice. Furthermore, the inscription on the grave of the old Commandant can represent the “Second Coming” with reference to the comeback of the old rules.
The Castle (Das Schloss: German) is a novel written by Franz Kafka. The novel is one of the best books by Franz Kafka. However, Kafka died before finishing the work. The story revolves around a character named “K”. The protagonist arrives in a village where he claims to be the land surveyor of the castle.
The Castle is often understood as alienation and isolation. The book was also adopted in many different movies. I’d still recommend reading the book first.
Feature Image Credits: Brandon Monk