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What Happened to Franz Kafka?

Franz Kafka’s brilliance was acknowledged worldwide years after his death. Although short-lived, Franz Kafka produced many literary works that continue to influence writers in various genres. His legacy lives on with his compositions. 

Many would wonder about the great author. Unfortunately, Franz Kafka suffered from laryngeal tuberculosis. He was struggling to eat or drink due to the pain in his throat, that he slowly died from starvation. 

Who is Franz Kafka?

Franz Kafka, son of Hermann Kafka and Julie Löwy, was born July 3, 1883, in Prague, Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Empire, now known as the Czech Republic.

Franz Kafka was the oldest among his other five siblings. His siblings lived short, tragedy-filled lives. When Franz reached the age of 7, two of his brothers died, and his three remaining sisters all suffered and passed at the fatal grasp of concentration camps.

Franz’s parents were hardworking and diligent. Both his parents have hardly made any time to devote to their children, and they devoted most of their hours to working in Hermann Kafka’s business. With that, the hired nannies and governesses took care of young Franz.

As if the lack of hands-on parental guidance wasn’t enough to strain the father-child relationship of Hermann and Franz, Herman also had a very short temper and was very controlling. Their estranged father-child relationship was a reoccurring theme in many of Franz’s literary works and his life. One example is Franz’s Brief an den Vater, Letter to the Father, which is 117 pages of content regarding his father’s abusive behavior and the effects of his father’s abusiveness on his adult life.

As hurtful as it was for him, Kafka continued living closely with his parents. Although he was engaged to several women, his relationship with them never really sustained itself, partially because of Kafka’s long-lasting insecurities.

Franz was a docile and intelligent child that consistently excelled in his academics. He continued to be a graduate of Law, earning his degree in 1906. In his university years, he formed lifelong friendships that encouraged him to publish his first works. Max Brod, one of Franz’s closest friends, named their friend group the Prague Circle, which routinely discussed literary texts in different languages. Max Brod even became Franz’s biographer.

Even after his graduation, Franz continued to write literary works. The first job he acquired after he graduated made him discontented as he had no time for writing. Leaving his position, he pursued another occupation in the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute that he remained to hate.

Franz Kafka suffered from poor mental health. With his severe anxiety, self-doubt, and chronically low self-esteem, he could not see himself for what he was: a diligent, charming, and humorous friend. (Source: Thought Co.

Kafka’s Tragic Death

Franz Kafka’s physical health started to decline when he acquired laryngeal tuberculosis in the 1920s. His tuberculosis rapidly worsened, and he ended up returning to Prague to be taken care of by the Diamant family, particularly Ottla and Dora Diamant.  

He received treatment from the sanatorium of Dr. Hoffmann on April 24 near Vienna, Austria. He died in the sanatorium a few months later, on June 3, 1924.

Franz Kafka’s death was primarily from starvation. Because of the intolerable painfulness that his throat felt, he was unable to eat. Medical technology hadn’t yet developed parenteral nutrition; there was no way to feed severe laryngeal tuberculosis patients. (Source: Reiner Stach


Franz was in the process of producing A Hunger Artist, which he started when his inability to eat or drink persisted. Franz was buried in The New Jewish Cemetery in June 1924, which was also the burial place of his parents. (Source: Thought Co.)

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