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"One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin." he wrote to his off-again, on-again fiancée.
Kafka wrote for himself - he did not intend to be the worldwide phenomenon he is today. His early death from tuberculosis in 1924 came slowly. So he had time to ask his friend and literary executor Max Brod to destroy all of his papers, save for a few short stories. Brod refused (and later said he believed Kafka knew he'd refuse all along). As a result, today we have his letters and diaries to understand Kafka the man. And we have his searing, unforgettable stories to help us understand the world.