These Franz Kafka quotes will change the way you think. The German-speaking author, born in 1883, has been hailed by many as one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers of our time.
What Influence did Franz Kafka have?
Franz Kafka is known for his literary works including “Die Verwandung” and “Das Schloss” as well as “Der Process”. His writings had been so influential that Kafkaesque was coined and entered into the English language to reference his work that continues to inspire writers and artists, among many others, to this day. He may have died at the young age of 40 but his writing has touched a lot of people who found wisdom, enlightenment, and comfort in his words.
Below is our collection inspirational, wise, and thought-provoking Franz Kafka quotes and sayings, collected from a variety of sources over the years.
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Franz Kafka quotes that will broaden your thoughts
1. “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
2. “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka
3. “By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.” – Franz Kafka
4. “Don’t despair, not even over the fact that you don’t despair.” – Franz Kafka
5. “God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them.” – Franz Kafka
6. “He who seeks does not find, but he who does not seek will be found.” – Franz Kafka
7. “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
8. “In argument similes are like songs in love; they describe much, but prove nothing.” – Franz Kafka
9. “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
10. “Life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.” – Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka quotes to enlighten
11. “May I kiss you then? On this miserable paper? I might as well open the window and kiss the night air.”- Franz Kafka
12. “One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.” – Franz Kafka
13. “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka
14. “Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.” – Franz Kafka
15. “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
16. “A belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light.” – Franz Kafka
17. “A book should be an ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka
18. “A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die” – Franz Kafka
19. “Anything that has real and lasting value is always a gift from within.” – Franz Kafka
20. “Association with human beings lures one into self-observation.” – Franz Kafka
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Thought-provoking Franz Kafka quotes
21. “Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.” – Franz Kafka
22. “By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.” – Franz Kafka
23. “Do not waste your time looking for an obstacle – maybe there is none.” – Franz Kafka
24. “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” – Franz Kafka
25. “Don’t despair, not even over the fact that you don’t despair.” – Franz Kafka
26. “He is terribly afraid of dying because he hasn’t yet lived.” – Franz Kafka
27. “I am a cage, in search of a bird.” – Franz Kafka
28. “I can love only what I can place so high above me that I cannot reach it.” – Franz Kafka
29. “I do not read advertisements. I would spend all of my time wanting things.” – Franz Kafka
30. “I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.” – Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka quotes to inspire and teach
31. “I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.” – Franz Kafka
32. “I’m tired, can’t think of anything and want only to lay my face in your lap, feel your hand on my head and remain like that through all eternity.” – Franz Kafka
33. “Idleness is the beginning of all vice, the crown of all virtues.” – Franz Kafka
34. “In the struggle between yourself and the world second the world.” – Franz Kafka
35. “It’s often safer to be in chains than to be free.” – Franz Kafka
36. “Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” – Franz Kafka
37. “Religions get lost as people do.” – Franz Kafka
38. “Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.” – Franz Kafka
39. “The history of mankind is the instant between two strides taken by a traveler.” – Franz Kafka
40. “The meaning of life is that it stops.” – Franz Kafka
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More Franz Kafka quotes and sayings
41. “Theoretically there is a perfect possibility of happiness: believing in the indestructible element in oneself and not striving towards it.” – Franz Kafka
42. “There are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: impatience and laziness.” – Franz Kafka
43. “There is an infinite amount of hope in the universe … but not for us.” – Franz Kafka
44. “They’re talking about things of which they don’t have the slightest understanding, anyway. It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.” – Franz Kafka
45. “What do I have in common with the Jews? I don’t even have anything in common with myself.” – Franz Kafka
46. “Writers speak a stench.” – Franz Kafka
47. “You are free and that is why you are lost.” – Franz Kafka
48. “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
49. “Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka
50. “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” – Franz Kafka
What did you learn from these Franz Kafka quotes?
Franz Kafka’s philosophy that combines realism with “supernatural” or unreal forces is both romantic and practical as seen on this list of quotes.
Kafkaesque, which refers to Franz Kafka’s work as a storyteller, has been discussed and analyzed by critics and scholars for years, with some describing the fictional situations in Kafka’s short stories as bizarre and nonsensical.
In this list of quotes, Kafka shares his thoughts on different subjects that sometimes sound hopeless, contradictory, and negative yet some will make you nod in agreement because they’re sensible and spot on.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these Franz Kafka quotes and sayings? Do you have any other inspirational quotes to add? let us know in the comment section below.