franz kafka franz kafka The philosophical man famous for writing about dizzying bureaucracy was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. (Photo: Christiaan Tonnis / Flickr)

5 things you didn't know about Franz Kafka

The author of 'Metamorphosis,' 'The Trial' and 'The Castle' has some other claims to fame, too.

One morning, after Franz Kafka woke from troubled dreams and learned his letters were headed to Israel's National Library, the writer found himself transformed into a "5 things" article. He looked at the words swirling around him and wondered what made him so interesting, who "you" were, and why you cared about his biography. Then he ate some pita chip nachos because ...

Kafka was a vegetarian

sauteed spinach and tomatoesThis salad is Kafka-approved. (Photo: Jerry James Stone)

Once, Kafka looked at a fish in an aquarium and told it, "Now I can look at you in peace; I don't eat you anymore." The writer ate vegetarian dishes instead of meat ones, for both ethical and aesthetic reasons.

"One sits at the table laughing and talking," Kafka said, "and meanwhile tiny shreds of meat between the teeth produce germs of decay and fermentation, no less than a dead rat squashed between two stones."

Kafka stopped working after 2 p.m.

Richard Nixon bowling in what was then called the Old Executive Office Building.Richard Nixon apparently liked taking time off his busy day too, as evidenced by this oddly Kafkaesque photo. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Writing was very important to Kafka (surprise!) so he deliberately found a job that left him a lot of glorious free time to come up with mind-bending stories. He worked for the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia.

"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," Kafka wrote about writing. "Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly." ... And get an insurance job to pay the bills.

Kafka may have invented the hard hat

kafkaDid Kafka invent the hard hat? The answer is a bit of a head-scratcher. (Photo: TuiPhotoEngineer/Shutterstock)

Perhaps taking an overly literal approach to protect his sensitive head from nightmares, Kafka came up with a new invention.

While he was working at the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute, Kafka ingeniously realized that workers were getting into a lot of accidents. So he invented a hat that made workers significantly safer.

At least, that's the story. Austrian management professor Peter Drucker claimed it really happened, but he's apparently the only one, and he doesn't have much evidence for it.

Kafka almost moved to Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel's second-largest city, is considered a global tech hub and a leader in fashion, food and architecture.Tel Aviv, Israel's second-largest city, probably didn't look like this in Kafka's time. (Photo: Dmitry Pistrov/Shutterstock)

Near the end of his life, Kafka sent a postcard to a friend in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv saying that he planned on moving to Israel soon. His friend refused to host him, as he was afraid Kafka would infect his young children with tuberculosis.

Kafka died of tuberculosis shortly after, so this was probably a good call on his friend's part.

Kafka's fiancé was Adam Green's great-grandmother

Felice BaeurFelice Bauer almost graduated from vocational school in commerce, but her family couldn't afford to keep paying her tuition. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Felice Bauer, a dictaphone company representative, was the great-grandmother of Adam Green, one half of the famous anti-folk band The Moldy Peaches that gained notoriety in "Juno."

Kafka met Bauer at a friend's home in 1912. Here's what he wrote about her in his diary a week later:

I was not at all curious about who she was, but rather took her for granted at once. Bony, empty face that wore its emptiness openly. Bare throat. A blouse thrown on ... Almost broken nose. Blonde, somewhat straight, unattractive hair, strong chin.

The two then got engaged. Twice.


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5 things you didn't know about Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka, the author of 'Metamorphosis,' 'The Trial' and 'The Castle,' woke from troubled dreams to find himself transformed into a '5 things' article.