On Parables

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"On Parables"
Author Franz Kafka
Original title "Von den Gleichnissen"
Language German
Genre(s) Short story
Published in Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer
Media type book (hardcover)
Publication date 1931
Published in English

"On Parables" ("Von den Gleichnissen") is a short story fragment by Franz Kafka.[1] It was not published until 1931, seven years after his death. Max Brod selected stories and published them in the collection Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer. The first English translation translation by Willa and Edwin Muir was published by Martin Secker in London in 1933. It appeared in The Great Wall of China. Stories and Reflections (New York: Schocken Books, 1946).[2]

The piece consists of a narrative on the merit of parables. If in fact, the debate over if they are useful or merely folklore handed down from one generation to the next. The narrator mentions parables are not necessarily useful, after all they've been around for many years yet people still struggle with the same difficulties despite their "wisdom." In fact, the story ends by claiming the text in itself can be interpreted as a parable.


The story was written while Kafka was reading Judaica, and was particularly interested in the lore associated with Mishna.[3] Interestingly, Kafka's The Blue Octavo Notebooks are full of parables, many observations about daily life intertwined with poignant twists.


  1. ^ The complete stories. Franz Kafka, NN Glatzer, W Muir.1971.
  2. ^ The Great Wall of China: Stories and Reflections. Franz Kafka - 1946 - Schocken Books
  3. ^ Parable and paradox. H Politzer, Franz Kafka - Ithaca, New York, 1962