26+ quotes from The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka

Quotes from The Complete Stories

Franz Kafka ·  486 pages

Rating: (21.4K votes)


“Just think how many thoughts a blanket smothers while one lies alone in bed, and how many unhappy dreams it keeps warm.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“I stand on the end platform of the tram and am completely unsure of my footing in this world, in this town, in my family. Not even casually could I indicate any claims that I might rightly advance in any direction. I have not even any defense to offer for standing on this platform, holding on to this strap, letting myself be carried along by this tram, nor for the people who give way to the tram or walk quietly along or stand gazing into shop windows. Nobody asks me to put up a defense, indeed, but that is irrelevant.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“My grandfather used to say: Life is astoundingly short. To me, looking back over it, life seems so foreshortened that I scarcely understand, for instance, how a young man can decide to ride over to the next village without being afraid that -not to mention accidents- even the span of a normal happy life may fall far short of the time needed for such a journey.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“I don't know,' I cried without being heard, 'I do not know, If nobody comes, then nobody comes. I've done nobody any harm, nobody's done me any harm, but nobody will help me. A pack of nobodies. Yet that isn't all true. Only, that nobody helps me - a pack of nobodies would be rather fine, on the other hand. I'd love to go on an excursion - why not? - with a pack of nobodies. Into the mountains, of course, where else? How these nobodies jostle each other, all these lifted arms linked together, these numberless feet treading so close! Of course they are all in dress suits. We go so gaily, the wind blows through us and the gaps in our company. Our throats swell and are free in the mountains! It's a wonder that we don't burst into song.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“So perhaps the best resource is to meet everything passively, to make yourself an inert mass, to stare at others with the eyes of an animal, to feel no compunction, with your own hand to throttle down whatever ghostly life remains in you.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“I felt so weak and unhappy that I buried my face in the ground: I could not bear the strain of seeing around me the things of the earth. I felt convinced that every movement and every thought was forced, and that one had to be on one's guard against them.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“The longer one hesitates before the door, the more estranged one becomes.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“When one has apparently made up one’s mind to spend the evening at home and has donned one’s house-jacket and sat down at the lamplit table after supper and do the particular job or play the particular game on completion of which one is in the habit of going to bed, when the weather out is so unpleasant as to make staying in the obvious choice, when one has been sitting quietly at the table for so long already that one’s leaving must inevitably provoke general astonishment, when the stairwell is in any case in darkness and the street door locked, and when in spite of all this one stands up, suddenly ill at ease, changes one’s coat, reappears immediately in street clothes, announces that one has to go out and after a brief farewell does so, feeling that one has left behind one a degree of irritation commensurate with the abruptness with which one slammed the apartment door, when one then finds oneself in the street possessed of limbs that respond to the quite unexpected freedom one has procured for them with out-of-the-ordinary agility, when in the wake of this one decision one feels capable, deep down, of taking any decision, when one realizes with a greater sense of significance than usual that one has, after all, more ability than one has need easily to effect and endure the most rapid change, and when in this frame of mind one walks the long city streets—then for that evening one has stepped completely outside one’s family, which veers into inessentiality, while one’s own person, rock solid, dark with definition, thighs thrusting rhythmically, assumes it true form.
The whole experience is enhanced when at that late hour one looks up a friend to see how he is.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“Life is astonishingly short. As I look back over it, life seems so foreshortened to me that I can hardly understand, for instance, how a young man can decide to ride over to the next village without being afraid that, quite apart from accidents, even the span of a normal life that passes happily may be totally insufficient for such a ride.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“I was heading for the city in the south, of which they used to say in our village:
‘There are people for you! Just think—they never go to sleep!’
‘And why don’t they?’
‘Because they’re fools.’
‘Don’t fools get tired, then?’
‘How could fools get tired?”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“But sometimes I really felt as though the starry sky rose and fell with the gasping of his chest.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“No one will read what I write here, no one will come to help me... My ship is rudderless, it's driven by the wind blowing into the nethermost regions of death.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“One learns when one has to; one learns when one needs a way out; one learns at all costs. One stands over oneself with a whip; one flays oneself at the slightest opposition.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“All the people who try to torment me, and who have now occupied the entire space around me, will quite gradually be thrust back by the beneficent passage of these days, without my having to help them even in the very least. And, as it will come about quite naturally, I can be weak and quiet and let everything happen to me, and yet everything must turn out well, through the sheer fact of the passing of days.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“In our folk nobody has any experience of youth, there’s barely even any time for being a toddler. The children simply don’t have any time in which they might be children........Indeed... there’s simply no way that we would be able to provide our children with a viable childhood, one that is real. Naturally, there are consequences. There’s a certain ever present, not to be liquidated childishness that permeates our folk; We often act in ways that are totally and utterly ridiculous and, indeed, precisely like children we do things that are crazy, letting loose with our assets in a manner that is bereft of all rationality, prodigious in our celebrations, partaking in a light-headed frivolousness that is divorced from all sensibility, and often enough all simply for the sake of some small token of fun, so much do we love having our small amusements. But our folk isn’t only childish, to a certain extent we also age prematurely, childhood and old age mix themselves differently with us than by others. We don’t have any youth, we jump right away into maturity and, then, we remain grown-ups for too long and as a consequence to this there’s a broad shadow of a certain tiredness and a sort of hopelessness that colours our essential nature, a nature that as a whole is otherwise so tenacious and permeated by hope, strong hope. This, no doubt, this is related to why we’re so disinclined toward music—we’re too old for music, so much excitement, so much passion doesn’t sit well with our heaviness;”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“Every new discovery is assumed at once into the sum total of knowledge, and with that ceases in a sense to be a discovery; it dissolves into the whole and disappears, and one must have a trained scientific eye even to recognize it after that.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“I repeat: there was no attraction for me in imitating human beings; I imitated them because I needed a way out, and for no other reason.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“Scratch your flesh raw between your toes, but you won't find the answer.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“Hombro con hombro, una cadena de hermanos, una sangre no ya encerrada en la mezquina circulación del cuerpo, sino circulando con una dulzura y sin embargo regresando sin fin a través de China.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“Concerning this a man once said:Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables
you yourselves would become parables and with that rid of all your daily cares.
Another said: I bet that is also a parable.
The first said: You have won.
The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.
The first said: No, in reality; in parable you have lost.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“For when one is about to embark on some enterprise, it is precisely the books whose contents have nothing at all in common with the enterprise that are the most useful.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“One hears a great many things, true, but can gather nothing definite.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“ Stoga, ipak, kao najbolji savjet ostaje: primati sve onako kako je, ponašati se kao teška masa, pa makar se sam osjećao kao da si otpuhan, ne dopustiti da te nešto namami na pogrešan korak, promatrati druge životinjskim pogledom, ne osjećati kajanje, ukratko - vlastitom rukom pritiskati ono što je od života još ostalo kao avet, to jest još uvećati posljednji grobni mir i ne znati više za postojanje ičega drugog osim njega.
Karakterističan pokret takvog stanja jeste prelaženje malim prstom preko obrva. ”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“Ông nội tôi thường nói: Đời người ngắn đến sửng sốt. Nhìn lại, tôi thấy đời người dường như bị rút ngắn đến mức khó hiểu nổi, thử lấy ví dụ, làm thế nào một chàng trai trẻ có thể quyết định cưỡi ngựa qua làng bên mà không sợ rằng - chưa kể đến những tai nạn - ngay cả một đời người may mắn bình thường có lẽ cũng quá thiếu thời gian cho cuộc đi đó.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“Oh well, memories, said I. Yes, even remembering in itself is sad, yet how much more its object! Don't let yourself in for things like that, it's not for you and not for me. It only weakens one's present position without strengthening the former one - nothing is more obvious - quite apart from the fact that the former one doesn't need strengthening.”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


“ALAS,” said the mouse, “the world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when at last I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these long walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into.” “You only need to change your direction,” said the cat, and ate it up. Translated”
― Franz Kafka, quote from The Complete Stories


About the author

Franz Kafka
Born place: in Prague, Austria-Hungary
Born date July 3, 1883
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