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Reading Kafka in German
Is Kafka too difficult for beginners?


Hey đź‘‹

As a language learning platform with a particular focus on reading & learning through interesting content, one question that we get quite a lot is how difficult it is to read German classics.

And one name that comes up particularly often is that of Franz Kafka. But how easy is Kafka, really? Let's have a look at some examples.

How difficult is Kafka in German?

A lot of learners would like to at some point read their first German novel that's not a children's book, so they'll start looking for suitable beginner books. In this context, Kafka seems to be recommended surprisingly often.

And indeed, the very first sentence of Kafkas metamorphosis seems easy enough:

Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus uneasyunruhigen Träumen awokeerwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem tremendousungeheuren verminUngeziefer transformedverwandelt.

When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

Let's have a look at the second sentence:

Er lag auf seinem panzerartig harten Rücken und sah, wenn er den Kopf ein wenig hob, seinen gewölbten, braunen, von bogenförmigen Versteifungen geteilten Bauch, auf dessen Höhe sich die Bettdecke, zum gänzlichen Niedergleiten bereit, kaum noch erhalten konnte.

He was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly stay in place and was about to slide off completely.

This sentence is by no means beginner-friendly.

Now, we are not saying that you shouldn't try to read Kafka. In fact, compared to other German classics, Kafka is probably one of the easiest German books out there.

We are just saying that it doesn't make a great first novel for beginners who want to start reading and get some comprehensible input (for this, we recommend our list on German childrens books). This is why we haven't included Kafka's metamorphosis in our blog post on German beginner books (but he did make it into our list of intermediate German books).

But even for intermediate learners, Kafka won't be a walk in the park. There will be sentences that will confuse you.

Easy Kafka Quotes (in German)

Well after just talking about how difficult Kafka is and how you shouldn't read the metamorphosis as your first novel, let's end this blog post on a more positive and opimistic note, with some Kafka quotes that are actually rather easy to understand.

Let's have a look now at some Kafka quotes that beginners can understand.

Questions & Answers

Here are a few more questions and answers about reading Kafka in German. If you have any more questions, send us an email.

How difficult is Kafka in German?
Can I read Kafka as a beginner?
What level do you need to read Kafka?
Which of Kafka's books is the easiest?
What's the best Kafka novel?
How do you pronounce Kafka?
Did Kafka write in old German?