Franz Kafka

The 20th century's realest surrealist.

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It's as if the wandering, frequently-maligned protagonist of The Trial and Amerika finally found a place where, ultimately, he could be in control. "The Hunger Artist" takes place in a cage, and a sad one, but it is a beautiful, perfected kind of sadness, a kind of sadness that we can only hope Kafka achieved.

The End

Despite his deteriorating physical condition, Kafka maintained dreams of moving to Israel with Dora and opening a restaurant. He met with her father and asked permission to marry her, but was refused. He died shortly thereafter, in 1924. Kafka's father and mother both died years later, in 1931 and 1934 respectively, and were buried with him in their family plot; his three sisters were all killed by the Nazis.

Many people say the Holocaust itself was foreshadowed in Kafka's work: a maddening event, devoid of logic or reason, echoing the main character's pointless persecution in The Trial and the futile journey in The Castle with an eerie quality of premonition. Through all this, it seems as though Kafka's most torturous experience, his writing, was also his greatest asset, the one activity that kept him sane. At one point, Kafka wrote, "God doesn't want me to write. But I have no choice."

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Matthue Roth

Matthue Roth created Jewniverse. He also co-created G-dcast, the animated Torah film series. His most recent book is My First Kafka, a picture book for children. He's also the author of the memoir Yom Kippur a Go-Go and three novels. He lives in Brooklyn with his family, and he keeps a secret diary at www.matthue.com.