Franz Kafka in 1906
Public DomainFranz Kafka in 1906

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a novelist and short story writer born to middle-class Jewish parents in Prague, Bohemia. Author of The Trial, The Castle, and The Metamorphosis, most of his work was unfinished and published posthumously, and his reputation as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century also came after his death. Kafka had instructed his friend and literary executor Max Brod to destroy all his writings after his death (which came at the age of 41 from tuberculosis), but Brod disobeyed Kafka and in fact told him before his death that he would do so.

Although Kafka may be Prague’s most famous son, he plays only a tiny role in Unbearable Lightness. Here, Franz recalls a formula set forth somewhere in Kafka’s diaries or letters that one must “live in truth.” Of course, that means something very different to Sabina.