Ladislav Klíma was born in the town of Domažlice in western Bohemia. He came from a moderately wealthy family. After expulsion from the school system in 1895 for allegedly insulting the State, the Church, and — out of what he described as “historical analphabetism” — the Habsburgs, he lived alternately in Tyrol, Zurich, and Prague. As part of his philosophy he only ever took on short term work. For a time he also lived off occasional royalties from his publications and the periodic generosity of his friends. While only part of Klíma’s work was published before his death, many manuscripts were edited posthumously, among which were his stories and letters. Many manuscripts he destroyed himself. Klíma spent the later part of his life living in a hotel, shining shoes for a living, drinking spirits and eating vermin. Klíma died of tuberculosis and is buried in Prague.
Klíma rejected the norms of contemporary Czech society in both the way he lived and in what he wrote. Culture, moral values and the world itself are all rejected and reality is subjected to the will of the individual. Much of Klima’s philosophy is expressed in "World as Consciousness and Nothing" ("Svět jako vědomí a nic", 1904). He took ideas from his philosophical predecessors to the extreme and tried to incorporate them into his practical life. For Berkeley, each object exists only because it is perceived, to be is to be perceived. Klima takes this a stage further and suggests that the individual creates the world with his own will. Where the highest achievement for Schopenhauer is the man who denied his will, Klíma conversely suggests that the realization of one’s own will is the primary achievement. This brings Klíma close to Nietzsche with his will to power liberating itself from the bounds of the bourgeois world and affirming itself. Klíma's individuality lies not only in his conception of philosophy, but also in his attempt to conform to it in his personal life. His autobiographical writings illustrate his attempts to grasp his own power and to shout his "Deus sum" ("I am God"). He tested his own deity in a life without any money, and in non-conformism that rejected all conventions, including a job. All this was to lead Klíma to control of self. However, Klíma also had friends and patrons who supported him in difficulties. Utrpení knížete Sternenhocha (The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch: Prague 1928) is his most famous novel. In a series of journal entries, the book chronicles the descent into madness of Prince Sternenhoch, who moves from the life of a nobleman to a life filled with suffering, eccentricity, bouts of madness and self-torment. Having sunk to the lowest level, he eventually attains an ultimate state of bliss and salvation.