Title: The Trial
Author: Franz Kafka
Translator: Idris Parry
Publisher: Penguin (Modern Classics)
Date: 2015 (1925)
Genre: Philosophical Fiction
Summary: A terrifying psychological trip into the life of one Joseph K., an ordinary man who wakes up one day to find himself accused of a crime he did not commit, a crime whose nature is never revealed to him. Once arrested, he is released, but must report to court on a regular basis – an event that proves maddening, as nothing is ever resolved. As he grows more uncertain of his fate, his personal life – including work at a bank and his relations with his landlady and a young woman who lives next door – becomes increasingly unpredictable. As K. tries to gain control, he succeeds only in accelerating his own excruciating downward spiral.
I read The Trial as part of the Classics Club Spin #28 which ends on the 12th of December. You can check out my entire CC list, including the books I’ve reviewed, here.
The Trial is a strange book but I actually really enjoyed it! It was absurd and dark but it was also very compelling and I was invested in the process of K’s trial. The novel tells the story of Josef K. who is arrested by an unknown authority for a crime that is never revealed, to either the reader or K. himself. He’s never imprisoned but he isn’t truly ‘free’ either as he must await instructions from the Committee of Affairs. I felt an unrelenting sense of unease while reading the book, which was exacerbated by the fact that there were no set rules for the trial. You don’t know what’s going to happen because K. is never told what is going to happen and you’re almost afraid to find out. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat while reading it, in anticipation of the upcoming events, but, instead, I was almost dreading turning the page. It was a unique reading experience and I’m sure it wouldn’t be for everyone but I enjoyed the challenge of it all.
The book ends rather abruptly, to the point where I wondered if it was unfinished (and, according to wikipedia, it probably is unfinished), but the final chapter does work as an ending and I’m not actually sure what else would have happened after the events of the final chapter if Kafka had continued.
I feel like the translation reflects the absurd nature of Kafka’s story and it also captures a bit of Kafka’s style the sentences are long. Sentences are not as long as they would be in the original German edition but the translator has tried to keep some of the effect that Kafka’s style has on the reader. It does make it somewhat difficult to read, which is made worse because the paragraphs span pages upon pages and there are no line breaks for dialogue, but it all adds to the experience and I feel like it made me concentrate more on what was going on.
Would I recommend this book? I would! I don’t think it would be a book that I’d recommend to everyone but if you’re up for a short, challenging read then this is for you.
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