He might have always been a little more nihilistic than I prefer, but in honor of his birthday this month, here are a handful of my favorite quotes by Franz Kafka.
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
“I am a cage, in search of a bird.”
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need 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 within us. That is my belief.” (Longer version of the first quote.)
“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.”
“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”
“Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.”
“I am in chains. Don’t touch my chains.”
“I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.”
So yeah, the guy could be a bit of a downer, but he’s my kind of downer. Introspective, honest, and perhaps just a little bit moody.