FACT CHECK: Did Franz Kafka Say, ‘Follow Your Most Intense Obsessions Mercilessly’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

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

Posted by Elephant Yoga on Friday, July 26, 2019

Verdict: False

This quote was actually penned by gothic novelist Anne Rice in the foreword of a collection of Kafka’s writings published in 1995.

Fact Check:

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.

The Daily Caller News Foundation searched the Kafka Project, an extensive online archive of Kafka’s work, but found no matching expressions. The quote isn’t present in his collected letters either.

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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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

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