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on 15 December 2009
Kafka is surely the greatest writer of fiction in the 20th Century. Quite a claim, I know, given that the last century produced Thomas Mann, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Salman Rushdie, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Thomas Keneally and a host of others. All these writers are brilliant and insightful, but Kafka during his short life showed the absurdity of human pretensions. "The Trial" and "The Castle" show the way that totalitarian regimes will protect themselves at all costs. Indeed, anyone who has ever rang a customer care Call Centre will immediately be able to identify with "The Castle", as will any one who has attempted to get information out of any bureaucracy. "The Trial" is perhaps his greatest - and certainly his darkest - work. We don't know what the crime is nor do we know if he is innocent or guilty, but we don't need to know because the point of the novel is that once a person finds themselves inside a criminal "justice" system - particularly but not exclusively in totalitarian regimes - it can be difficult to find a way out.

It is amazing that these novels were written before the Nazi Holocaust, before we knew the truth of the Stalinist regime, and before the crimes committed by Pol Pot, Mao, Amin and the Americans in Vietnam.
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on 5 October 2009
I've always thought that Kafka is poorly served by the support of many of his greatest fans, like D H Lawrence and Joseph Heller.

His work is appreciated by me as dark, ironical - deliberately overdone depictions of neurotics and obsessives : Kafka as a sort of literary Woody Allen, rather than something reaching towards existentialist profundity (in the mode of Camus.)(Yes, I know Woody Allen writes books!)

Perhaps many of his readers would reject my view, but where does the authority of the 'critic' here, who describes his work as 'overrated drivel' come from? At 55, I hesitate to find a remark within my experience for which I have more contempt. His remark is opinion, not criticism (might I suggest Kafka will remain better admired and remembered than he is?) I regret the wasted seconds I spent reading and responding to his 'drivel'.

These books are FUNNY!
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on 3 August 2011
Nobody should miss this collection of three of Kafka's greatest novels. As already mentioned in these reviews, Kafka can be very funny, or horrifyingly bizarre, depending upon perspective. Either way, essential reading.
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on 8 December 2009
A bizarre lack of insight from people taking it upon themselves to review such an interesting author. A literary masterpiece 'The Castle' may not be, but sometimes one reads to obtain slightly more than pure aesthetic gratification.
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on 2 September 2015
Good quality print and paper and not as chuncky to carry as would be expected for a kind of anthology. Good reads.
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on 9 June 2009
I bought this book because i didn't read all the novel of Kafka.
The book is great, if you like such type of writing.

Book came fast , brand new what else can I wrote- buy it and read it it is worth it ;)
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on 21 June 2009
Having readhis Complete Short Stories I thought I'd be in for a treat with this compendium - after all, it's Kafka, but longer, right?

Wrong.

Kafka famously decreed in his will that nothing more of his works should be published, and now I've read this cover to cover I can see why. True - The Trial is a fantastic exploration of claustrophobic description, and America has its own naive charm, but The Castle - at the same time the longest and most convoluted work - is just a mess. I actually found myself wanting to kill the character, as he was at best angry and at worst completely one-sided and passive. This would be all well and good if the events around him were somehow fantastical, but this wasn't to be - it's essentially a novel about a man who tries to talk to the authorities and fails. A number of times. It's not even comical, and the surrealism Kafka's famous for is just completely absent here.

As isolated novels, it's variable - The Trial is certainly worth a read, just for the odd nausea it induces, and America has a curious sort of liberation attached to it and a couple of larger-than-life characters. As a collection, though, it's not worth it - you get half-way through well enough, but the last half of the book (The Castle) is a painful slog, from start to finish.
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