Top positive review
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Das Schloß... let’s get ready to ramble!
on 14 February 2004
This is one of Kafka’s most impenetrable narrative constructs... a book that puts away with the stark storytelling and literary devises of the Trial and instead, broadens the more poetic aspects of the Metamorphosis - as well as drawing on his often fractured short story work - to create a surreal, allegorical parable that, in the words of another reviewer, offers everything and nothing simultaneously. The world of the novel in pure Kafka... with autocracy and bureaucracy pushed beyond their reasonable limits, infecting and affecting the characters in various ways and ultimately, creating an atmosphere of decay and paranoia that hangs constantly in the background, like a sick reminder of the character’s absurd futility.
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. As others have previously stated, this is a difficult book to get through on the first reading, requiring a great deal of concentration on the part of the reader to work through Kafka’s many multi-layered musings. Don’t despair however; this isn’t quite the bottomless pit that you might imagine it to be from my description. There is a great deal here to enjoy, it may just take a while for the writer’s world and characters to sink in. Needless to say, burgeoning Kafka fans will love it!