Kafka, Franz (1883–1924) By Langlois, Christopher
Franz Kafka was born 3 July 1883 to a bourgeois family in Prague, the Czech capital that in the late nineteenth century belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although his nationality was therefore Austro-Hungarian, Kafka’s parents, Hermann Kafka and Julie Lowy were Jewish, and under the reign of Franz Josef I, Austrian Jews were widely regarded as second-class citizens. As head of a Jewish family growing up in Czech-speaking Prague, Hermann Kafka strongly insisted that his children be raised to speak and act German, the de facto language and identity of social and cultural prestige in Prague during this period. While Kafka exhibited a keen interest in literature and art from a very young age, his notoriously overbearing father was insistent that he should receive education and training for a professional or administrative career, which would allow him to provide his future family with the same level of upper-middle class affluence that Hermann had provided for Franz. Kafka reluctantly capitulated, and on 18 June 1906 he successfully completed a Doctorate in Law from the Ferdinand-Karls University in Prague.