Franz Kafka Quotes

Home / Novelist / Franz Kafka Quotes
Franz Kafka

Kafka in 1906
Born (1883-07-03)3 July 1883
Prague, Bohemia,
Austria-Hungary
(now Czech Republic)
Died 3 June 1924(1924-06-03) (aged 40)
Kierling, part of Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria, Austria
Citizenship Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia[1][2]
Alma mater German Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague
Occupation

Novelist
Short story writer
Insurance officer

Notable work

Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”)
Der Process (The Trial)
Das Urteil” (“The Judgment”)
Das Schloss (The Castle)
Betrachtung (Contemplation)
Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist)
Briefe an Felice (Letters to Felice)

Style Modernism
Parent(s)

Hermann Kafka
Julie Kafka (née Löwy)

If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without climbing it, it would have been permitted.
Franz Kafka
My 'fear' is my substance, and probably the best part of me.
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
Evil is whatever distracts.
Heaven is dumb, echoing only the dumb.
In argument similes are like songs in love; they describe much, but prove nothing.
Franz Kafka
It is often safer to be in chains than to be free.
Woman, or more precisely put, perhaps, marriage, is the representative of life with which you are meant to come to terms.
Franz Kafka
Let me remind you of the old maxim: people under suspicion are better moving than at rest, since at rest they may be sitting in the balance without knowing it, being weighed together with their sins.
Franz Kafka
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
The relationship to one's fellow man is the relationship of prayer, the relationship to oneself is the relationship of striving; it is from prayer that one draws the strength for one's striving.
Franz Kafka
Martyrs do not underrate the body, they allow it to be elevated on the cross. In this they are at one with their antagonists.
Franz Kafka
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
Association with human beings lures one into self-observation.
God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them.
He who seeks does not find, but he who does not seek will be found.
Sensual love deceives one as to the nature of heavenly love; it could not do so alone, but since it unconsciously has the element of heavenly love within it, it can do so.
Franz Kafka
Don't despair, not even over the fact that you don't despair.
The fact that our task is exactly commensurate with our life gives it the appearance of being infinite.
Franz Kafka
Not everyone can see the truth, but he can be it.
We all have wings, but they have not been of any avail to us and if we could tear them off, we would do so.
Franz Kafka
My peers, lately, have found companionship through means of intoxication – it makes them sociable. I, however, cannot force myself to use drugs to cheat on my loneliness – it is all that I have – and when the drugs and alcohol dissipate, will be all that my peers have as well.
Franz Kafka
Religions get lost as people do.
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
Always first draw fresh breath after outbursts of vanity and complacency.
Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.
Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.
Franz Kafka
A stair not worn hollow by footsteps is, regarded from its own point of view, only a boring something made of wood.
Franz Kafka
Atlas was permitted the opinion that he was at liberty, if he wished, to drop the Earth and creep away; but this opinion was all that he was permitted.
Franz Kafka
No sooner said than done - so acts your man of worth.
In theory there is a possibility of perfect happiness: To believe in the indestructible element within one, and not to strive towards it.
Franz Kafka
The spirit becomes free only when it ceases to be a support.
In the fight between you and the world, back the world.
By imposing too great a responsibility, or rather, all responsibility, on yourself, you crush yourself.
Franz Kafka
How can one take delight in the world unless one flees to it for refuge?
The thornbush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further.
Franz Kafka
Self-control means wanting to be effective at some random point in the infinite radiations of my spiritual existence.
Franz Kafka
Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.
Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins.
Franz Kafka
A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.
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.
Franz Kafka
Writers speak stench.
The Bible is a sanctum; the world, sputum.
We are sinful not only because we have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, but also because we have not yet eaten of the Tree of Life. The state in which we are is sinful, irrespective of guilt.
Franz Kafka
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
Franz Kafka
The mediation by the serpent was necessary. Evil can seduce man, but cannot become man.
Franz Kafka
One must not cheat anyone, not even the world of its victory.
My guiding principle is this: Guilt is never to be doubted.
We are separated from God on two sides; the Fall separates us from Him, the Tree of Life separates Him from us.
Franz Kafka
One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.
Franz Kafka
So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.
Franz Kafka
Suffering is the positive element in this world, indeed it is the only link between this world and the positive.
Franz Kafka
May I kiss you then? On this miserable paper? I might as well open the window and kiss the night air.
Franz Kafka
Idleness is the beginning of all vice, the crown of all virtues.
It is only our conception of time that makes us call the Last Judgement by this name. It is, in fact, a kind of martial law.
Franz Kafka
If I shall exist eternally, how shall I exist tomorrow?
The history of mankind is the instant between two strides taken by a traveler.
Franz Kafka
I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy.
Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.
Franz Kafka
From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.
Franz Kafka
If there is a transmigration of souls then I am not yet on the bottom rung. My life is a hesitation before birth.
Franz Kafka

A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.
In the struggle between yourself and the world second the world.
A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.
Don Quixote's misfortune is not his imagination, but Sancho Panza.
Hiding places there are innumerable, escape is only one, but possibilities of escape, again, are as many as hiding places.
Franz Kafka
A man of action forced into a state of thought is unhappy until he can get out of it.
Franz Kafka
The experience of life consists of the experience which the spirit has of itself in matter and as matter, in mind and as mind, in emotion, as emotion, etc.
Franz Kafka
The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual. That is why the revolutionary spiritual movements that declare all former things worthless are in the right, for nothing has yet happened.
Franz Kafka
Tyranny or slavery, born of selfishness, are the two educational methods of parents; all gradations of tyranny or slavery.
Franz Kafka
Hesitation before birth. If there is a transmigration of souls then I am not yet on the bottom rung. My life is a hesitation before birth.
Franz Kafka
I do not read advertisements. I would spend all of my time wanting things.
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
Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.
Franz Kafka
It is comforting to reflect that the disproportion of things in the world seems to be only arithmetical.
Franz Kafka
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
In a certain sense the Good is comfortless.
It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.
Franz Kafka
Test yourself on mankind. It is something that makes the doubter doubt, the believer believe.
Franz Kafka
Dread of night. Dread of not-night.
Believing in progress does not mean believing that any progress has yet been made.
Franz Kafka
A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.
One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer.
Franz Kafka