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One of the quintessential novels of the 20th century,
This review is from: The Trial (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Perhaps the greatest aspect of Kafka's work is his ability to nonchalantly inscribe all things sinister in his unique world - almost to the point of this impenetrable darkness existing as a banal force that is never questioned by the rational mind.
The Trial is a claustrophobic masterpiece; lucid in the way it is structured and marvellous in how it has its own extraordinary identity.
In the world of Franz Kafka there is no comprehensible power for the individual, all things mundane have a frighteningly, symbolic possibility and society is run by a chaotic, self-destructive beaurocracy that organise, subjugate and secretly hate each other.
The protagonist of this novel Joseph K. is an intriguing figure. He is complacent, protected in his self-righteous world of privilege and rank, until his world is turned upside down by his state-approved arrest. Here his comfortable professional class life complicates beyond all meaning as strange sexual liaisons, bizarre individuals and totalitarian spies encroach upon his economic life.
Essentially, Kafka has assembled one of the great artistic creations of the twentieth century here with his imperceptible imagination that finds the secret forces of manipulation hidden underneath the industrial solemnity of the ostensibly 'ignorant' lower classes.
Written in an elegant prose, Kafka's words shine with the charm of flattering etiquette; they wonderfully contrast with the overpopulated setting in a dark, dishonest world and portray humanity as a surprisingly arrogant collective who know very little about the counter-suspicious motives of their nearest companions.
Ultimately, The Trial is the quintessential portrayal of the dehumanising effect of the totalitarian state, which is all the more impressive considering this novel, was written when Stalin, Hitler and Mao Zedong were still in adolescence.