The castle,: A novel
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Top Customer Reviews
It’s bleak stuff, made bleaker by the writer’s use of descriptions and choice of subject matter. His work is categorised as being without colour, and certainly this is true when we read his work back. The world that is conjured in our imagination is like a combination of Lynch’s Eraserhead, Gilliam’s Brazil and Soderbegh’s own film of the writer’s life and work (which saw actor Jeremy Irons portraying both Kafka and his literary alter ego K. in a stunning example of self-reflexity). We can actually see the world in which the writer abandons us - leaving us without guidance or clues for the most part of the book - as a noirish underworld populated by a cavalcade of characters, each with shadowy-ulterior motives.
The book takes in elements of black comedy and farce, which does, to an extent, lighten the mood... though the continual bombardment of surreal encounters, arcane descriptions and literary puzzles means that the humour is the last thing we respond to.Read more ›
This is my favourite Kafka novel and it is frustrating therefore that one must read it in translation, but mainly because Kafka never finished it, indeed it ends mid sentence. Kafka gave up on this book and it was Kafka's close friend Max Brod that completed it and to an extent commercialised it. But in a way, this chimes in with the unnerving narrative and is yet one more device to de-stabilise the reader.
Once read, The Castle will stay with you and you'll find yourself comparing much of what happens to you in modern life to the Sisyphus like existance of Joseph K.
The story revolves around a character K, the omission of a further explanation of his contracted name is the first in a host of unexplained mysteries. We know very little about K, other than he has travelled to a town dominated by a Castle after being summoned to perform his duties as a surveyor. When K arrives at the town it becomes clear that nothing is going to be straightforward.
The town is run from the Castle by a mysterious administration whose labyrinthine rules and procedures govern the townspeople who are constantly in fear of offending those officials ranked higher than them while simultaneously striving to climb the ranking ladder. Unfortunately the whole game is rigged by a serious of secret networks, rules and unseen penalties.
Readers who enjoyed The Trial should enjoy The Castle. The same sense of menace looms over the narrative and its never clear if the main protagonist has figured out the whole ruse or is about to be crushed under the weight of bureaucracy. It's easy to see why Maria's books are viewed as critiques of the Soviet regime. The feeling of helplessness for individuals lost in a giant machine where even those working the levers are not sure what the end product is.
Somehow, by skill suspense and arresting prose, Kaka makes The Castle compelling when it's individual elements should make it immensely frustrating.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Perhaps the best idea with this book is to buy it and hope for the best, without reading what I've written about it or what anyone else has written about it! Read morePublished 6 months ago by The Prodigal Son
This book can be read as an introduction to dystopian literature.
Joseph K. (the protagonist) arrives in a village and struggles to gain access to the mysterious authorities... Read more
My contact prior with Kafka has, admittedly, been limited to The Trial and A Country Doctor. Those books demonstrated that Kafka's writings involve many layers and, as each layer... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Terry D