Quotations by Kafka, Franz


So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
“Investigations of a Dog” (1922)
Added on 28-Nov-13 | Last updated 28-Nov-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

“Don’t you want to join us?” I was recently asked by an acquaintance when he ran across me alone after midnight in a coffeehouse that was already almost deserted. “No, I don’t,” I said.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
Diary (June 1914) [ed. M. Brod (1948)]
Added on 17-Dec-13 | Last updated 17-Dec-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

The true way is along a rope that is not spanned high in the air, but only just above the ground. It seems intended more to cause stumbling than to be walked upon.

[Der wahre Weg geht über ein Seil, das nicht in der Höhe gespannt ist, sondern knapp über dem Boden. Es scheint mehr bestimmt stolpern zu machen, als begangen zu werden.]

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
Notebook, Aphorism #1 [tr. Kaiser and Wilkins]
    (Source)
Added on 26-Nov-13 | Last updated 26-Nov-13
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

Fear for one’s daily bread destroys one’s character.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In G. Janouch, “Conversations with Kafka” [tr. Rees] Encounter (Aug 1971)
Added on 29-Oct-15 | Last updated 29-Oct-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In G. Janouch, Conversations with Kafka [tr. G. Rees (1953)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 28-Sep-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

As the flood spreads wider and wider, the water becomes shallower and dirtier. The Revolution evaporates, leaving behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy. The chains of tormented mankind are made out of red tape.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In G. Janouch, Conversations with Kafka [tr. G. Rees (1953)]
Added on 13-Jan-09 | Last updated 28-Sep-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

Every one of us has a bad conscience, which he tries to escape by going to sleep as quickly as possible.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In G. Janouch, Conversations with Kafka [tr. G. Rees (1953)]
Added on 27-Mar-09 | Last updated 27-Mar-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

Every man lives behind bars, which he carries within him.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In G. Janouch, Conversations with Kafka [tr. G. Rees (1953)]
Added on 14-Nov-11 | Last updated 28-Sep-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

Youth is full of sunshine and life. Youth is happy, because it has the ability to see beauty. When this ability is lost, wretched old age begins, decay, unhappiness. […] Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In Gustav Janouch, Conversations with Kafka (1951; 1971 ed.)
Added on 30-Sep-20 | Last updated 30-Sep-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. If one throws a stone into a river, it produces a succession of ripples. But most men live without being conscious of a responsibility which extends beyond themselves. And that — I think — is the root of our misery.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In Gustav Janouch, Conversations with Kafka [tr. Rees (1953)]
Added on 22-Apr-11 | Last updated 22-Apr-11
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? … We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.

[Ich glaube, man sollte überhaupt nur solche Bücher lesen, die einen beißen und stechen. Wenn das Buch, das wir lesen, uns nicht mit einem Faustschlag auf den Schädel weckt, wozu lesen wir dann das Buch? Damit es uns glücklich macht, wie Du schreibst? Mein Gott, glücklich wären wir eben auch, wenn wir keine Bücher hätten, und solche Bücher, die uns glücklich machen, könnten wir zur Not selber schreiben. Wir brauchen aber die Bücher, die auf uns wirken wie ein Unglück, das uns sehr schmerzt, wie der Tod eines, den wir lieber hatten als uns, wie wenn wir in Wälder verstoßen würden, von allen Menschen weg, wie ein Selbstmord, ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. Das glaube ich.]

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
Letter to Oskar Pollak (27 Jan 1904)
    (Source)

Alt. translations:
  • "If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? Good God, we also would be happy if we had no books and such books that make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us."
  • "What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us."
  • "A book should be an ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us."
  • "A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul."
  • "A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us."
Added on 12-Nov-13 | Last updated 19-Dec-19
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

All human errors are impatience, the premature breaking off of what is methodical, an apparent fencing in of the apparent thing.

[Alle menschlichen Fehler sind Ungeduld, ein vorzeitiges Abbrechen des Methodischen, ein scheinbares Einpfählen der scheinbaren Sache.]

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
Notebook, Aphorism #2 [tr. Kaiser and Wilkins]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "All human errors are impatience, a premature breaking off of methodical procedure, an apparent fencing-in of what is apparently at issue."
Added on 3-Dec-13 | Last updated 3-Dec-13
Link to this post | No comments
Topics:
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

There are two main human sins from which all the others derive: impatience and indolence. It was because of impatience that they were expelled from Paradise; it is because of indolence that they do not return. Yet perhaps there is only one major sin: impatience. Because of impatience they were expelled, because of impatience they do not return.

[Es gibt zwei menschliche Hauptsünden, aus welchen sich alle andern ableiten: Ungeduld und Lässigkeit. Wegen der Ungeduld sind sie aus dem Paradiese vertrieben worden, wegen der Lässigkeit kehren sie nicht zurück. Vielleicht aber gibt es nur eine Hauptsünde: die Ungeduld. Wegen der Ungeduld sind sie vertrieben worden, wegen der Ungeduld kehren sie nicht zurück.]

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
Notebook, Aphorism #3 (20 Oct 1917) [tr. Kaiser and Wilkins]

In The Blue Octavo Notebooks (1954) and in Dearest Father: Stories and Other Writings (1954); variant translations use "cardinal sins" instead of "main human sins" and "laziness" instead of "indolence", e.g., "There are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: impatience and laziness."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 28-Sep-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached.

[Von einem gewissen Punkt an gibt es keine Rückkehr mehr. Dieser Punkt ist zu erreichen.]

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
Notebook, Aphorism #5 [tr. Kaiser and Wilkins]
    (Source)

    Alt. trans.:
  • From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.
  • There is a point of no return. This point has to be reached.
Added on 10-Dec-13 | Last updated 10-Dec-13
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Kafka, Franz

Man cannot live without a permanent trust in something indestructible in himself, though both the indestructible element and the trust may remain permanently hidden from him. One of the ways in which this hiddenness can express itself is through faith in a personal god.

[Der Mensch kann nicht leben ohne ein dauerndes Vertrauen zu etwas Unzerstörbarem in sich, wobei sowohl das Unzerstörbare als auch das Vertrauen ihm dauernd verborgen bleiben können. Eine der Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten dieses Verborgen-Bleibens ist der Glaube an einen persönlichen Gott.]

Alt. trans.:

  • “Man cannot live without an enduring faith in something indestructible within him.” [In Max Brod, introduction to Gustav Janouch, Conversations with Kafka (1953) [tr. Rees]]
  • “Man cannot live long without a steady faith in something indestructible within him, though both faith and the indestructible thing may remain permanently concealed from him.”
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
Notebook, Aphorism #50 [tr. Kaiser and Wilkins]

Alt. trans.:
  • "Man cannot live without an enduring faith in something indestructible within him." [In Max Brod, introduction to Gustav Janouch, Conversations with Kafka (1953) [tr. Rees]]
  • "Man cannot live long without a steady faith in something indestructible within him, though both faith and the indestructible thing may remain permanently concealed from him."
Added on 8-Mar-10 | Last updated 28-Sep-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Kafka, Franz