Franz Kafka


It’s no surprise that a lawyer authored literary masterpieces ‘The Trial’ and ‘The Castle’ (no relation to the Australian legal comedy of the same name). Franz Kafka’s novels explore bureaucracy, inequity and legality. In his writings, the law is often seen to misapply justice. Kafka had an insight into the legal system, working as an insurance lawyer and writing in his spare time. His ambivalence about the law could perhaps be attributed to a resentment that his ‘day job’ kept him from pursuing his real passion. The often dark tone of his writing could also have been inspired by his working life. Kafka’s second job in the law involved assessing victims of (often gruesome) industrial accidents for worker’s compensation.

A young Franz Kafka studied law in Prague. There he met fellow law student Max Brod who, after the death of his friend, was to write Kafka’s biography. Kafka’s fame can be said to have come about through a legal misdeed. The author was fairly unknown during his lifetime and most of his work was published posthumously when Brod (the executor of Kafka’s will) ignored the author’s request to destroy all his manuscripts. Instead, Brod meticulously edited, rearranged and readied the author’s writings for publication and eventual critical acclaim.