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Judge on Trial Paperback – 19 Nov 1992

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (19 Nov. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009999920X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099999201
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 3.6 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,124,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A great novel which transmits in detail the special qualities of life in a nightmare." - "Independent"

About the Author

Ivan Klima was born in 1931 in Prague. He was the editor of the journal of the Czech Writer's Union during the Prague Spring. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Paperback
Judge Adam Kindl was born into a non-practicing Jewish family in pre-WW2 Czechoslovakia. The family had a stong committment to building a better socialist society with a number of them paying the ultimate price. Due to this background he is interned in a children's detention camp throughout the war. He realises he is lucky to survive when many of his friends did not.

Following the defeat of the Nazis, Adam plays an active role in the building of Communism but as time goes on his faith in the system is brought into question and he becomes increasingly disillusioned. Only the 1968 Prague Spring brings a brief respite.

This is a story of disillusionment and disappointment. As his belief system crumbles, so also does his family life, both to go hand in hand.

The main solutions are a retreat into personal introversion or seeking consolation in religion. Both may help sustain the main characters through their individual crises but will hardly solve the underlying causes of their unhappiness. While the main characters retreat from social engagement, others maintain their resilience and confidence in being able to achieve change. And their day was to come.....

This mood of the book is gloomy and the style reflects this. Nonetheless it is an excellent and credible story which uses uncertaintly to retain interest to the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 5 Jun. 2003
Format: Paperback
Shows how the noble ideas of justice and truth can be, and are, perverted by a system which turns upon its people, where the role of criminal and victim, innocent and guilty are reveresed. A warning against false hope, be it in politics, work or love. Klima's best work (try also My Golden Trades, and Love & Garbage)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Klima's book recalls the burden of the Czech conscience 11 Nov. 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the features of Czech writing that is most evident in any genre -- from Havel's plays and letters, to Kundera's novels, and to Dubcinski's autobiography -- is the burden placed on the Czech character to weigh political expediency with moral imperatives. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Klima's masterful novel of a judge who, given the choice of trying a case in a kangaroo court or resigning in something more terrible than disgrace, decides instead to resist these choices by using the case as a way of filtering his past through the lense of his uncertainties about the facts of the case before him.

Klima weaves the story of the case -- a man gases two people to death -- with that of the judge's own life of surviving childhood illness, World War II, and the moral opprobriums of post-1968 Czechoslovakia. What comes of this experience is a dual biography of the same person: on one hand a judge who has had to compromise his own sense of justice for the sake of his career, and on the other, a man whose every compromise seals his fate to tragic mediocrity. It is as if the lessons of his childhood have sentenced him to know only the memory of heroism.

Distributed underground for years in Czechoslovakia by Klima's admirers, the novel was published after the opening of the east. Its sense that every decision (even the decision of what to remember and add to the judge's own self-incrimination) strengthens the idea that of the people of Eastern Europe, the Czech are among those who truly understand the weight and consequences of memory.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Engrossing and timeless 5 Mar. 2013
By Momcat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The hard choices facing a sympathetic protagonist who believes in justice, but cannot find it the legal system of which he is a participant, are heart wrenching. Engrossing tale of the interaction of politics and law in what is now known as the Czech Republic. Excellent writing and timeless issues. A good story for all, but particularly recommended for the legal community.
Powerful to say the least 6 May 2008
By Gin Ichimaru - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There is no question that the Czech people have a true love for liturature. What other nation would elect a playwrite as President? And from this nation comes a true giant of liturature, Ivan Klima.

Judge on Trial is a compelling read about a troubled individual who is forced to make a choice between doing what is morally right and what would save his own career. He is forced to judge a defendent charged with a grizly crime of murdering his landlady and her neice. The defendent is presented as disturbed and somewhat pathatic figure. The title figure is Adam Kindl, a judge with humanistic ideals whose sense of faith in his fellow man is put to test. Under pressure by his superiors to have the defendent put to death for this crime, he must ponder his own value system. As this story unfolds we see Kindl's own life go through a chrisis as his neglected wife takes a lover and he must make the most difficult decision of his life.

This story is in the true tradition of all great writers and is a dark reflection into the human soul remenissant of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Albert Camus or Franz Kafka.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An interesting book examining political and domestic themes 16 Sept. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Judge on Trial caught my eye because it promised to deliver an interesting exposition of the political situation in Czechoslovakia prior to the 1968 revolution and how that impacts the choices the main character makes. I thought the book was alternately interesting and tedious. The underlying themes of moral dilemmas in the face of political repression were interesting but not explored in an as accessible manner as I had hoped. The domestic situation of the judge was very interesting, but ultimately unsatisfactorilly resolved. Ultimately I did not find the main character compelling as he seemed to distance himself from everything including responsibility for his own actions at times. The novel ended very darkly and while I would recommend this as an interesting book from the standpoint of learning more about East European politics, the story was not as compelling as I initially thought.
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