FACT CHECK: Did Franz Kafka Say, ‘Follow Your Most Intense Obsessions Mercilessly’?
A post shared on Facebook credits writer Franz Kafka with saying, “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
“Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” ― Franz Kafka
This quote was actually penned by gothic novelist Anne Rice in the foreword of a collection of Kafka’s writings published in 1995.
Kafka, a German-speaking Jewish writer, did not gain prominence for his work until after his death in 1924. He wrote several novels and numerous shorter works, including “The Metamorphosis” and “In the Penal Colony.” However, there is no evidence that Kafka penned the quote attributed to him in the post.
It actually originated with a foreword written by Rice for a collection of Kafka’s writings published in 1995, the website Quote Investigator discovered. In the foreword where the quote appears, Rice describes the ways in which Kafka’s writing influenced her own, saying, “Kafka became a model for me, a continuing inspiration.”
In 2015, Anne Rice discussed the misattribution on Facebook after Quote Investigator reached out to her. Here’s the post:
“Those are my words struggling to define the impression Kafka’s example made on me! And it’s being attributed worldwide to Kafka,” Rice said in the post. “What a shame. I think Kafka might have expressed those sentiments a lot better!”
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