Franz Kafka has become the heartthrob of Generation Z. Young women and girls in particular share their newfound love for the author on Tiktok. At first glance, this may not sound obvious: an author from the early 20th century, whose complex and multi-layered work literary scholars are working through, suddenly inspires young people. And that in a medium that doesn’t necessarily stand for depth with its short, fast-paced videos.

But if you look at some of these small Kafka declarations of love and hymns of praise, it is by no means surprising that young people in particular are discovering the author for themselves. His works deal with beetles and fleas and monkeys, with metamorphoses, with bureaucratic monsters and dependencies, and in the end it is usually not entirely clear who installed what here. Ultimately, everyone is lost in this world in their own way.

Pandemic, war, climate change – Gen Z is growing up in crisis mode. No wonder she likes the Kafkaesque, the unfathomably threatening. Kafka’s work often deals with situations of helplessness. Who would know what to do if he suddenly wakes up in the form of a beetle, like Kafka’s Gregor Samsa in “The Metamorphosis”. The book is particularly well received on Tiktok.

In the app, young women compare their dating experiences with sentences by Kafka and obviously feel understood by the suffering, melancholic writer.

Kafka was born in 1883 as the son of a Jewish merchant in Prague, where he also spent most of his life. At the request of his father, with whom Kafka had a very difficult relationship, he worked in an insurance company. He started writing early and studied German in addition to law. So Kafka wrote his famous works almost on the side. His language was German, which was not unusual given the relatively large German-speaking community in Prague at the time.

A young woman writes in English in a Tiktok: The fact that Kafka died thinking that he had failed hurts her more than anything else. “I wish I could tell him how many lives he has changed through his work and how amazing he was and always will be.”

Kafka died in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis of the larynx. He actually wanted his literary legacy to be destroyed. His friend Max Brod prevented that. Luckily. In the meantime, his books have long been part of world literature, translated into several languages.

The exchange about books and a new joy in literature has long been part of Tiktok,

Find out more about other current social media trends from Y2K to Dark Academia to Royalcore here.

Quellen: Tiktok (I), Tiktok (II)