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Word of the Day
Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Definitions for Kafkaesque

  1. marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity: Kafkaesque bureaucracies.
  2. of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or resembling the literary work of Franz Kafka: the Kafkaesque terror of the endless interrogations.

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Citations for Kafkaesque
As I see it, there is still another telling Kafkaesque dimension to Watergate now that President Ford has written his version of The End. It is the enormousness of the frustration that has taken hold in America ever since Compassionate Sunday, the sense of waste, futility, and hopelessness that now attaches to the monumental efforts that had been required just to begin to get at the truth. Philip Roth, "Our Castle," Reading Myself and Others, 1975
What makes the situation positively Kafkaesque is that under the terms of the Consent Decree, which was created in part to prevent songwriters from monopolizing the market, composers are now often compelled to license their songs to these monopolistic behemoths at absurdly low rates. John Seabrook, "Will Streaming Music Kill Songwriting?" The New Yorker, February 8, 2016
Origin of Kafkaesque
1945-1950
Kafkaesque means “having a disorienting, confusing, nightmarish quality; feeling surreal and threatening,” as, for instance, a form letter from the IRS. Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a German-speaking Jew born in Prague, Bohemia (now the capital of the Czech Republic). Kafka received a rigorous secular education: he wrote in both German and Czech and spoke German with a Czech accent but never thought himself fluent in Czech. He began publishing his artistic prose in 1908. Kafka’s father, Hermann Kafka (1854-1931), was a clothing retailer in Prague and employed around a dozen people in his business. Hermann Kafka used the image of a jackdaw (kavka in Czech) as the logo for his business. Kafkaesque entered English in the 20th century.