Franz Kafka (3 July 1883--3 June 1924) was an influential German-language writer of novels and short stories, regarded by critics as one of the greatest authors of the 20th century. Kafka was a Modernist and heavily influenced other genres, including existentialism. His works, such as 'Die Verwandlung' ('The Metamorphosis'), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle), are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent-child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, and mystical transformations. Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and trained as a lawyer. After completing his legal education, Kafka obtained employment with an insurance company. He began to write short stories in his spare time, and for the rest of his life complained about the little time he had to devote to what he came to regard as his calling.