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Franz Kafka, Prague’s Favorite Son

The Hanging Man

Prague seems to not just celebrate the life of Franz Kafka but to embrace his sense of the bizarre found in his writings. One popular attraction in the city is a giant rotating head of Franz Kafka made of a coil of polished stainless steel. Kafka t-shirts are also a popular item in the tourist shops. Stroll the streets of the Old City and you’ll discover the bizarre popping up in surprising places. Looking up there’s the Hanging Man statue swinging in the air from a building top. Walk into a square and find the Pissing Men statue.

The rotating head of Franz Kafka Prague

Prague is home to The Franz Kafka Museum that holds a collection of historical documents and first editions along with art and numerous exhibits showing his life. The museum is housed in an impressive building that was part of the Hergetova Brickworks on the bank of the Vltava River.

  • All first editions of Kafka’s works
  • Correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, photographs and drawings
  • Three-dimensional exhibits
  • Audiovisual pieces created especially for the exhibition and a soundtrack

There are displays attempting to prove that all of Kafka’s major work describes the city of Prague. The unnamed cathedral in The Trial is St. Vitus Cathedral, where in the last chapter, Josef K’s path describes a trip from Old Town across the Charles Bridge to the border of Lesser Town. It is also claimed that in Judgment the quay and the Vltava river and its bank are described looking from Bendemann’s window. Much effort has gone into proving that Prague’s topography is always present, but not named in Kafka’s stories.

Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer, who is regarded as a major figure in 20th-century literature. His works offer a bizarre mixing of the elements of realism with a nightmarish unreality. They often feature isolated protagonists living through surrealistic predicaments with incomprehensible social and bureaucratic situations.

Franz Kafka

Born July 3, 1883, in Prague, that was at the time of the Kingdom of Bohemia, Austria-Hungary.

He died June 3, 1924, and is buried in the New Jewish Cemetery, Prague.

If you haven’t read any of Kafka’s stories it is an interesting experience as you get drawn into the mind of a character that often finds himself awake in a nightmarish world. It’s not hard to be drawn into his worlds and in so doing gain some insight like in the Prisoner that seems to offer parallels to aspects of current cultural issues like cancel culture and worrying about what is acceptable thought.

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