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Customer Review

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?


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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