Beyond Literary Landscapes—Franz Kafka

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column focuses on Franz Kafka, a notable nineteenth-century author.

Franz Kafka was born on July 3, 1883 in Prague, Czech Republic and died on June 3, 1924 in Kierling, Austria.

In general, his works are known to “contain an inscrutable, baffling mixture of the normal and the fantastic, though occasionally the strangeness may be understood as the outcome of a literary or verbal device, as when the delusions of a pathological state are given the status of reality or when the metaphor of a common figure of speech is taken literally.”

Students may have heard of the literary term Kafkaesque, which was developed to describe something as “extremely unpleasant, frightening, and confusing, and similar to situations described in the novels of Franz Kafka.”


Some examples of Franz Kafka notable works include The Metamorphosis, The Castle, Amerika, and The Trial.

Other lesser known texts include In the Penal Colony, The Country Doctor, and The Judgement.


Many of these works are set throughout Central Europe, as well as the United States.


Kafka ‘s works are predominantly set in the nineteenth century.


These novels may be of interest to AU students who enjoy literature that is a bit surreal, confusing, and macabre.  In addition, the works of Kafka are a great way to truly understand the term Kafkaesque, which is often applied to other notable authors and their works, such as Haruki Murakami and Fyodor Dostoevsky.  This term may also serve as an introduction to further literary terms, such as Dickensian, Orwellian, and Byronic.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Franz Kafka are available in a variety of disciplines, including ones that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in this topic may consider enrolling in ENGL 395: The Nineteenth-Century English Novel, a senior-level, six-credit course, which “introduces the student to some of the major English novels of the nineteenth century.”  (Student should not that this is course requires several prerequisites, including ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays, or any first-year ENGL course).

Students may also be interested in ENGL 341: World Literatures, a senior-level, six credit course, which “introduces students to literature from around the world.”  The current revision of this course includes an entire unit on Kafka, namely “Unit 20: Modernity and Modernism, 1900–1945—Franz Kafka.”  (Once again, prerequisites include ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays, or any first-year ENGL course).  Happy reading!