This novel tells the story of Joseph K, a respectable clerk in a bank, who is suddenly arrested and asked to defend himself against a criminal charge which is never defined.
If this sounds confusing... (well) it is. Kafka keeps large chunks of the plot a secret for as long as he can, making the reader work all the more to decipher the clues that he weaves between the arcane descriptions and densely layered symbolism that is injected into every sentence that we read. Never at any point in time does Kafka allow us to gain more information than K. instead making us work just as hard to find out what is going on in this diabolical world of autocracy and mistrust. Anyone who has seen Orson Welles’ adaptation of the book (or for that matter, Terry Gilliam’s cult classic Brazil) will have a visual template for the kind of world that the writer suggest through his use of words and the imagery they create.
The narrative is purposely multi-layered and features moments of both horror and tension, but also has a strong streak of darkly comic absurdity and the kind of social surrealism that people like Buñuel and Greenaway do so well...Read more ›
The bewildering downward spiral of Joseph K is one of the true masterpieces of world literature. Arrested for a crime which he can never discover and in a court of which he has no prior knowledge, K's only outlet is meaningless snatches of affection with random women who continually let him down. The most damning aspect of the entire tale is that the courts themselves are everywhere. They reside in the attics of the tenements of the drab city in which he suffers from the bizarre circumstances out of his control. K's bemusement is relayed to the reader through numerous sotte voce moments which see him struggling to pretend that he does actually hold some influence over his own life.
Try not to begin reading this novel with too many preconceived notions of what a novel should be. This is not a Victorian morality tale where at the end of the tale the main protaganists get either their rewards or their just desserts. Life itself rarely follows such linear progression, and The Trial doesn't either.
A must read book for any wishing to term themselves as any kind of book lover. Awesome and haunting.