“Kafkaesque” has come to describe the dark reality of a complex world where the soul of man is alienated and trapped by unknown forces and fears. Franz Kafka, the literary genius who gave the world this expression, probably never expected that people would relate to the inner turmoil of the soul which is expressed so flawlessly through his parables, narratives and stories. The entire body of work of Franz Kafka is neither large nor varied. He depicts, interprets and describes existential angst of sensitive souls caught in an absurd world which is beyond their comprehension and control.
The concurrent theme of all his literary works is how a cold and authoritarian world triggers and controls extreme feelings of anxiety, alienation, fear, guilt, frustration and other unknown inner forces in the individual and in the end it is the lonely soul which seeks acceptance but is transformed, mutilated, rejected and persecuted. The entire system and its institutions including the family seem to be created only to reject the individual. Nothing can be more ironical and dark because human beings who have created these very institutions fail the individual so miserably. Is one caught in one’s own surreal web, and is there really no way to save the lonely soul? Kafka’s study of human society and individual perhaps suggests the answer is a “NO”.
Franz Kafka is now one of the most widely read and interpreted writer. His tragic personal life, oppression by patriarchal father, failed relationships and his toil is known to the world. There are hundreds of analyses of his works which his friend Max Brod published in spite of Kafka’s last wishes to burn the manuscripts after his death. It is really tragic that Kafka’s work found world wide acceptance after his death, while throughout his short life he pined for it.
The modern world which is rooted in patriarchy truly fails the individual and everyone undergoes transformations like the protagonist of Kafka’s long short story “Metamorphosis” who wakes up as a giant insect and gets rejected by his family. Most sensitive souls experience rude awakening to realize that they are strangers to themselves, to the room and to the world which rejects, persecutes and terrorizes them to death. Kafkaesque is not a mere interpretation/description of the condition of mind and world, but it is one’s dark predicament.