120+ Best Franz Kafka Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Franz Kafka was a novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work fuses elements of realism and the fantastic. Profoundly inspirational Franz Kafka quotes will challenge the way you think, change the way you live and transform your whole life.

Famous Franz Kafka Quotes

The books we need are the kind that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide, or lost in a forest remote from all human habitation-a book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us. – Franz Kafka

I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with clamps, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us anymore. – Franz Kafka

There are two cardinal human sins out of which all others derive, deviate, and dissipate: impatience and lassitude (or perhaps nonchalance). On account of impatience they are driven out of paradise; on account of lassitude or nonchalance they do not return. Perhaps, however, only one main sense of sin is given: impatience. On account of impatience they are driven out, on account of impatience they do not turn back. – Franz Kafka

What if I slept a little more and forgot about all this nonsense. – Franz Kafka

Paths are made by walking – Franz Kafka

The meaning of life is that it stops. – Franz Kafka

The Fathers of the Church were not afraid to go out into the desert because they had a richness in their hearts. But we, with richness all around us, are afraid, because the desert is in our hearts. – Franz Kafka

I no longer know If I wish to drown myself in love, vodka or the sea. – Franz Kafka

Love is, that you are the knife which I plunge into myself. – Franz Kafka

Should I be grateful, or should I curse the fact that despite all misfortune I can still feel love, an unearthly love but still for earthly objects. – Franz Kafka

The delights of this life are not its own, but our fear of the ascent into a higher life; the torments of this life are not its own, but our self-torment because of that fear. – Franz Kafka

I miss you deeply, unfathomably, senselessly, terribly. – Franz Kafka

The right understanding of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other. – Franz Kafka

Books are a narcotic. – Franz Kafka

Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence… someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence, certainly never. – Franz Kafka

Follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. – Franz Kafka

How can one take delight in the world unless one flees to it for refuge? – Franz Kafka

The truth is always an abyss. One must as in a swimming pool dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again laughing and fighting for breath to the now doubly illuminated surface of things. – Franz Kafka

You are so vulnerably haunting. Your eeriness is terrifyingly irresistible. – Franz Kafka

They were offered the choice between becoming kings or the couriers of kings. The way children would, they all wanted to be couriers. Therefore, there are only couriers who hurry about the world, shouting to each other – since there are no kings – messages that have become meaningless. They would like to put an end to this miserable life of theirs, but they dare not because of their oaths of service. – Franz Kafka

The spirit becomes free only when it ceases to be a support. – Franz Kafka

Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have. – Franz Kafka

Just because your doctor has a name for your condition, doesn’t mean he knows what it is. – Franz Kafka

He who does not answer the questions has passed the test. – Franz Kafka

If the literature we are reading does not wake us, why then do we read it? A literary work must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us. – Franz Kafka

I do not see the world at all; I invent it. – Franz Kafka

Everything you say is boring and incomprehensible, but that alone doesn’t make it true. – Franz Kafka

Psychology is the description of the reflection of the terrestial world in the heavenly plane, or, more correctly, the description of a reflection such as we, soaked as we are in our terrestial nature, imagine it, for no reflection actually occurs, only we see earth wherever we turn. – Franz Kafka

In me, by myself, without human relationship, there are no visible lies. The limited circle is pure. – Franz Kafka

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

Writing sustains me. But wouldn’t it be better to say it sustains this kind of life? Which doesn’t mean life is any better when I don’t write. On the contrary, it is far worse, wholly unbearable, and inevitably ends in madness. This is, of course, only on the assumption that I am a writer even when I don’t write – which is indeed the case; and a non-writing writer is, in fact, a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

I have spent my life resisting the desire to end it. – Franz Kafka

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

Some books seem like a key to unfamiliar rooms in one’s own castle. – Franz Kafka

Please consider me a dream. – Franz Kafka

As far as I have seen, at school…they aimed at blotting out one’s individuality. – Franz Kafka

Tyranny or slavery, born of selfishness, are the two educational methods of parents: all gradations of tyranny or slavery. – Franz Kafka

All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers, is contained in the dog. If one could but realize this knowledge, if one could but bring it into the light of day, if we dogs would but own that we know infinitely more than we admit to ourselves! – Franz Kafka

One reads in order to ask questions – Franz Kafka

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

God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them. – Franz Kafka

I am constantly trying to communicate something incommunicable, to explain something inexplicable, to tell about something I only feel in my bones and which can only be experienced in those bones. Basically it is nothing other than this fear we have so often talked about, but fear spread to everything, fear of the greatest as of the smallest, fear, paralyzing fear of pronouncing a word, although this fear may not only be fear but also a longing for something greater than all that is fearful. – Franz Kafka

Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. – Franz Kafka

I lack nothing. I only needed myself. – Franz Kafka

This perversion of the truth, familiar to the artist though it was, always unnerved him afresh and proved too much for him. What was a consequence of the premature ending of his fast was here presented as the cause of it! To fight against this lack of understanding, against a whole world of nonunderstanding, was impossible. – Franz Kafka

I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself. – Franz Kafka

One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die. This life appears unbearable, another unattainable. One is no longer ashamed of wanting to die; one asks to be moved from the old cell, which one hates, to a new one, which one willl only in time come to hate. In this there is also a residue of belief that during the move the master will chance to come along the corridor, look at the prisoner and say: This man is not to be locked up again, He is to come with me. – Franz Kafka

There is a destination but no way there; what we refer to as way is hesitation. – Franz Kafka

April 27. Incapable of living with people, of speaking. Complete immersion in myself, thinking of myself. Apathetic, witless, fearful. I have nothing to say to anyone – never. – Franz Kafka

I’m thinking only of my illness and my health, though both, the first as well as the second, are you. – Franz Kafka

I carry the bars within me. – Franz Kafka

I never imagined that so many days would ultimately make such a small life. – Franz Kafka

Evil is whatever distracts. – Franz Kafka

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

No matter how much you keep encouraging someone who is blindfolded to stare through the cloth, he still won’t see a thing… – Franz Kafka

Written kisses never arrive at their destination; the ghosts drink them up along the way. – Franz Kafka

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. – Franz Kafka

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

We live in an age which is so possessed by demons, that soon we shall only be able to do goodness and justice in the deepest secrecy, as if it were a crime. – Franz Kafka

By imposing too great a responsibility, or rather, all responsibility, on yourself, you crush yourself. – Franz Kafka

The door could not be heard slamming; they had probably left it open, as is the custom in homes where a great misfortune has occurred. – Franz Kafka

May I kiss you then? On this miserable paper? I might as well open the window and kiss the night air. – Franz Kafka

In man’s struggle against the world, bet on the world. – Franz Kafka

Dread of night. Dread of not-night. – Franz Kafka

Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable. – Franz Kafka

My peers, lately, have found companionship through means of intoxication – it makes them sociable. I, however, cannot force myself to use drugs to cheat on my loneliness – it is all that I have – and when the drugs and alcohol dissipate, will be all that my peers have as well. – Franz Kafka

Officials are highly educated but one-sided; in his own department an official can grasp whole trains of thought from a single word but let him have something from another department explained to him … he won’t understand a word of it. – Franz Kafka

I can love only what I can place so high above me that I cannot reach it. – Franz Kafka

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. – Franz Kafka

People label themselves with all sorts of adjectives. I can only pronounce myself as ‘nauseatingly miserable beyond repair’. – Franz Kafka

The thornbush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further. – Franz Kafka

sleep is the most innocent creature there is and a sleepless man the most guilty. – Franz Kafka

Life is merely terrible; I feel it as few others do. Often — and in my inmost self perhaps all the time — I doubt whether I am a human being. – Franz Kafka

Anything that has real and lasting value is always a gift from within. – Franz Kafka

Everyone carries a room about inside him. This fact can even be proved by means of the sense of hearing. If someone walks fast and one pricks up one’s ears and listens, say in the night, when everything round about is quiet, one hears, for instance, the rattling of a mirror not quite firmly fastened to the wall. – Franz Kafka

Nothing is as deceptive as a photograph. – Franz Kafka

Photography concentrates one’s eye on the superficial. For that reason it obscures the hidden life which glimmers through the outlines of things like a play of light and shade. One can’t catch that even with the sharpest lens. – Franz Kafka

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? – Franz Kafka

The true way goes over a rope which is not stretched at any great height but just above the ground. It seems more designed to make people stumble than to be walked upon. – Franz Kafka

Torment yourself as little as possible, then you’ll torment me less. – Franz Kafka

I am a cage, in search of a bird. – Franz Kafka

There is nothing besides a spiritual world; what we call the world of the senses is the Evil in the spiritual world, and what we call Evil is only the necessity of a moment in our eternal evolution. – Franz Kafka

Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self. – Franz Kafka

Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself. – Franz Kafka

All human errors are impatience, a premature breaking off of methodical procedure, an apparent fencing-in of what is apparently at issue. – Franz Kafka

The experience of life consists of the experience which the spirit has of itself in matter and as matter, in mind and as mind, in emotion, as emotion, etc. – Franz Kafka

It isn’t necessary that you leave home. Sit at your desk and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t wait, be still and alone. The whole world will offer itself to you. – Franz Kafka

First impressions are always unreliable. – Franz Kafka

No, said the priest, you don’t need to accept everything as true, you only have to accept it as necessary. Depressing view, said K. The lie made into the rule of the world. – Franz Kafka

So eager are our people to obliterate the present. – Franz Kafka

Do not waste your time looking for an obstacle – maybe there is none. – Franz Kafka

Idleness is the beginning of all vice, the crown of all virtues. – Franz Kafka

If you find someone who makes you smile, who checks up on you often to see if you’re okay. Who watches out or you and wants the best for you. Who loves and respects you. Don’t let them go. People like that are hard to find. – Franz Kafka

It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves. – Franz Kafka

If education tries to make other persons out of us than we essentially are, deeper inside, it stultifies, and reproach matters. – Franz Kafka

Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more. – Franz Kafka

In a certain sense you deny the existence of this world. You explain life as a state of rest, a state of rest in motion. – Franz Kafka

I made the remark that I don’t avoid people in order to live quietly, but rather in order to be able to die quietly. – Franz Kafka

Writing is a deeper sleep than death. Just as one wouldn’t pull a corpse from its grave, I can’t be dragged from my desk at night. – Franz Kafka

But eternity is not temporality at a standstill. What is oppressive about the concept of the eternal is the justification, incomprehensible to us, that time must undergo in eternity and the logical conclusion of that, the justification of ourselves as we are. – Franz Kafka

Adam’s first domestic pet after the expulsion from Paradise was the serpent. – Franz Kafka

I can prove at any time that my education tried to make another person out of me than the one I became. It is for the harm, therefore, that my educators could have done me in accordance with their intentions that I reproach them; I demand from their hands the person I now am, and since they cannot give him to me, I make of my reproach and laughter a drumbeat sounding in the world beyond. – Franz Kafka

The purpose of a story is to be an axe that breaks up the ice within us. – Franz Kafka

Sometimes I think I can expiate all my past and future sins through the aching of my bones. – Franz Kafka

I am always trying to convey something that can’t be conveyed, to explain something which is inexplicable, to tell about something I have in my bones, something which can be expressed only in the bones. – Franz Kafka

Expulsion from Paradise is in its main aspect eternal: that is to say, although expulsion from Paradise is final, and life in the world unavoidable, the eternity of the process (or, expressed in temporal terms, the eternal repetition of the process) nevertheless makes it possible not only that we might remain in Paradise permanently, but that we may in fact be there permanently, no matter whether we know it here or not. – Franz Kafka

They did not know what we can now guess at, contemplating the course of history: that change begins in the soul before it appears in ordinary existence. – Franz Kafka

The state we find ourselves in is sinful quite independent of guilt. – Franz Kafka

Even the merest gesture is holy if it is filled with faith. – Franz Kafka

He who seeks does not find, but he who does not seek will be found. – Franz Kafka

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

Believing in progress does not mean believing that any progress has yet been made. – Franz Kafka

I never wish to be easily defined. I’d rather float over other people’s minds as something strictly fluid and non-perceivable; more like a transparent, paradoxically iridescent creature rather than an actual person. – Franz Kafka

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached. – Franz Kafka

Just think how many thoughts a blanket smothers while one lies alone in bed, and how many unhappy dreams it keeps warm. – Franz Kafka

For words are magical formulae. They leave finger marks be hind on the brain, which in the twinkling of an eye become the footprints of history. One ought to watch one’ s every word. – Franz Kafka

I do not speak as I think, I do not think as I should, and so it all goes on in helpless darkness. – Franz Kafka

I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you. I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. – Franz Kafka

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

Love is a drama of contradictions. – Franz Kafka

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