[[caption-width-right:239:A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.]]

->''"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 (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was one of the major German-language fiction writers of the 20th century. His unique body of writing--much of which is incomplete and was mainly published posthumously--is among the most influential in Western literature. His stories, such as ''Literature/TheMetamorphosis'' (1915), and novels, including ''The Trial'' (1925) and ''The Castle'' (1926), concern troubled individuals in a nightmarishly impersonal, modern, and bureaucratic world.

Not to be confused with Creator/FrankCapra, Music/FrankZappa, or [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI Kefka]]. And most certainly not [[Manga/SayonaraZetsubouSensei Kafuka Fuura]]. ''Film/{{Kafka}}'' is based on his works, albeit loosely.
!!Works by Franz Kafka with their own pages include:
* ''Literature/TheMetamorphosis''

!!Other works by Franz Kafka include examples of:
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: In-work in ''The Trial'' when the prison chaplain tells Josef the story [[https://records.viu.ca/~Johnstoi/kafka/beforethelaw.htm "Before the Law."]] Is the gatekeeper an ObstructiveBureaucrat who misled the man into keeping him out until he was too old to enter, or is he a [[WhatMeasureIsAMook tragic hero]] beholden to the Law while the man is free to enter, but chooses not to?[[invoked]]
* AmbiguouslyJewish: Kafka's work doesn't directly ever reference his Jewish background, but the Jewish angst somehow seems to seep through anyway.
* AuthorAvatar: A lot of his characters at least share some traits with him, such as a domineering father and a creative desire stifled by the doldrums of everyday life. A couple of them are named “K“.
* AuthorsOfQuote: Kafka's aphorisms are often reprinted, mostly as epigrams at the start of a book.
* BewilderingPunishment: The central point of ''The Trial''.
* BiographyAClef: Creator/StevenSoderbergh's film ''Kafka'' uses the author's fiction as a key to tell his life story.
* BodyHorror: Some of his characters are physically marred by the traumas they undergo.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Almost. ''Letter to His Father'', which was never given to his dad.
* CantGetAwayWithNuthin: He was a Trope Codifier. One of the most revealing exchanges in all his work is towards the end of ''The Trial'', when Josef K goes to the cathedral and talks to a priest:
-->'But I'm not guilty,' said K. 'It's a mistake. How can a person be guilty at all? Surely we are all human beings here, one like the other.'\\
'That is right,' said the priest, 'but that is the way the guilty are wont to talk.'
* ChewToy: The protagonists of his books hardly ever seem able to catch a break.
** Karl Rossman, protagonist of ''Amerika'', unwillingly gets the family maid pregnant, gets sent off to America by his father without any practical skills he could make a decent living with, finds a long-lost uncle, only to be thrown out after he visits an acquaintance against his uncle's will, gets an alright job as a lift boy, is dismissed due to the Head Porter who has it in for Karl because he does't greet the Porter politely and regularly, falls in with rogues (not the lovable kind), etc. [[spoiler: It's averted in the end, when Karl is accepted into the rather utopian Theatre of Oklahoma.]]
* CrapsackWorld: The late 19th-early 20th Century landscape of his stories.
* DeadArtistsAreBetter: The titular character from "The Hunger Artist." Not to mention Kafka himself.
** {{Subverted}} in "Josephine the Singer", though: after she, representing culture in general, dies, nobody will remember her.
** Kafka himself of course died before attaining universal fame.
* {{Determinator}}: K in ''The Castle''. {{Deconstructed}}: all his efforts are seemingly in vain. He might have been happier if he just gave up, although the book ends in mid-sentence and we only have hints as to how it would probably have ended.
* DisproportionateRetribution: "The Judgement" among others.
* DownerEnding: Much of his work.
* ExistentialHorror: A speciality of his, filtered his trademark brand of BlackComedy of course. In most of Kafka's works the world was out to get you, no matter how good you tried to be, and any efforts you would make to clear your name or even understand what the hell was going on would just make things worse.
* FishOutOfWater: Karl Rossman in America.
* HopeSpot: Josef K in ''The Trial'' has one, on the last page of the book, when he sees a window open and a person leans out and stretches out his/her arms.
* IceCreamKoan: Deliberately.
* GrayAndGreyMorality
* KafkaKomedy: Franz Kafka is the TropeNamer. When read the right way by a person with a very dark sense of humor, his books can be genuinely funny. According to his friends, Kafka himself would sometimes laugh out loud while reading his own work.
** Similarly, Creator/OrsonWelles always considered his film adaptation of ''The Trial'' to be a black comedy, and considered it wildly funny himself.
* KangarooCourt: ''The Trial'', in which the prisoner, Josef K, is never told what the charge is and cannot defend himself. Therefore, he is convicted and then sentenced to death without evidence of anything.
* {{Koan}}: "Before the Law, there stands a guard..."
* MagicRealism: For example, strange, unexplained transformations.
* MindScrew: What is ''really'' his works' meaning?
** ''The Trial'' contains a sentence in its first page which, in that it represents Kafka's uniquely elusive syntax, is a Mind Screw in itself. Josef K wakes up to find himself under arrest. He says to the man who's arresting him, "Anna is supposed to bring me my breakfast," referring to his landlady's daughter. The man says to somebody just outside the room, "He wants Anna to bring him his breakfast." The next sentence goes like this, in the original German: ''Ein kleines Gelächter im Nebenzimmer folgte, es war nach dem Klang nicht sicher, ob nicht mehrere Personen daran beteiligt waren.'' The most accurate published translation of this sentence's pileup of multiple negatives goes like this: "There was a brief burst of laughter from the next room, but it was not clear from the sound whether there might not be more than one person there." Good luck figuring that out.
* MundaneFantastic: The fantastic is usually seen as completely mundane by almost everyone who is not the protagonist.
* NoEnding: Two out of his three novels have no ending. ''The Trial'' does have an ending, but it's known that Kafka hadn't finished work on it when he died.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: In "Before the Law" or "Vor dem Gesetz", the doorkeeper acts as the literal and symbolic obstructive bureaucrat, blocking the man from the country from getting admittance to the Law.
* OneLetterName: K. in ''The Castle'' and Josef K in ''The Trial''.
* OntologicalMystery: ''The Trial'' is a cynical, bureaucratic example.
* OurMonstersAreWeird - Several of his vignettes feature rather bizarre and fantastic creatures, the oddest perhaps being the Odradek in his short story "The Cares of a Family Man."
* {{Recut}}: In adapting ''The Trial'', [[http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Tr9DZP_ahcYJ:tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Creator/OrsonWelles+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk Orson Welles]] rearranged the order of Kafka’s chapters. In this version, the chapter line-up read 1, 4, 2, 5, 6, 3, 8, 7, 9, 10. However, the order of Kafka's chapters was arranged by his literary executor, Max Brod, after the writer's death, and this order is not definitive. [[https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Trial_(1962_film)&oldid=639673797#Production Source]]
* SchizoTech: The 1994 film version of ''The Castle'' is set in a ClockPunk setting, with medieval architecture, early automobiles, and phones.
* ShaggyDogStory: [[ShootTheShaggyDog The dark kind.]]
* ShootTheShaggyDog: Almost everything by Kafka falls into this category.
* SliceOfLife: His collected writings contain one-page stories that don't really have a point to them, apart from [[SceneryPorn describing an interesting scene]] and [[SeinfeldianConversation observing things about it.]]
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism: Kafka's work has its foot right on the cynical end.
* SurrealHorror: His protagonists are often utterly (and sometimes fatally) bewildered by circumstances that would be funny if the consequences were less hideous.
* TortureTechnician: The Officer from "In the Penal Colony" who uses an execution device with needles to mark the crime the person is being executed for (the person dies eventually after several hours of pain from either shock or blood loss)
* UnreliableNarrator: For example in the short story ''The Judgement'', where at first the narrator seems to be pretty much identical with protagonist Georg Bendemann, bragging what a considerate person he is because he doesn't tell his unfortunate friend abroad what a happy, successful life he has. How nice and understandable, thinks the reader - until Bendemann's father calls him out and accuses him of being a liar, so that we have to start questioning Bendemann's motives and if the friend abroad actually exists.
* UselessProtagonist: Many of his works have protagonists who either willingly or unwillingly have no active role in how the stories progress.
* WeirdnessCensor: Apart from the protagonists, very few people in his stories notice or care when something clearly out of the ordinary has happened.
* WhiteCollarWorker: Kafka himself and his characters provide an [[UnbuiltTrope early]] example of this trope.
* WrongGenreSavvy: Josef K in ''The Trial'' thinks he's a plucky everyman fighting against injustice. He's very, very wrong. However -- and this is the characteristically Kafkaesque twist -- it's never clear ''why'' he's wrong.
* YankTheDogsChain: Things may start to look bright. It never pays off.