Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Trial

Blurb: Somebody must have laid false information against Josef K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.' From this first sentence onwards, Josef K. is on trial for his right to exist in a novel which, more than any other, is infinitely perceptive about the nature of terror.

Thoughts: In a word: amazing. The story is gripping, tormenting and the writing is brilliant. But what is incredible is the depth. It could be read as a note on simply the ridiculous bureaucracy and inaccessibility of the legal system, which within the Austro-Hungarian Empire of that time, I think it is hard to imagine the extent of. But beyond that there are so many levels to see metaphor. 
Religion; the idea of sin and guilt, as well as perhaps the inaccessibility of sacred texts, and the irreconcilable, endless and contradictory nature of the interpretation of these texts and of religion itself. In fact Kafka was seemingly obsessed with the idea of guilt, writing in a diary "I am sinful in every nook and cranny of my being." 

The book could even stand as a metaphor for life itself; the pursuit of meaning and self-understanding when in fact I believe both K in The Trial and Kafka himself, though they tried to convince themselves otherwise, fundamentally knew this to be impossible. Kafka's dissatisfaction with himself and with his struggles to find meaning can be seen in his self-depreciation and destruction, though the burning of about 90% of his work. He in fact wanted the majority of his remaining work, including The Trial, to also be burnt. And for not carrying out this act: Max Brod, I am eternally grateful.


  1. Great review, I want to read this book again, I think I might get more and more out of it with each reread.

  2. intriguing book. Nice review.