Kafka's Castle is like a sombre reworking of Dickens's Circumlocution Office. It is a bizarre existentialist tale where nothing is certain, least of all the status and character of the central protagonist, K. Everyone within the vicinity of the Castle suffers from obsessive trivia fixation and speaks with great energy to little purpose: it's bureaucracy as universal neurosis. Potential purchasers of these Naxos discs should be aware that this is not the familiar Willa and Edwin Muir translation but a new one by David Whiting. I've no idea how accurate the translation is but David Whiting is not always convincing: the English is sometimes wooden and unidiomatic, not simply stark but unimaginative and clumsy: at times, it sounds more like a crib rather than a convincing translation of a novel. Allan Corduner has a rich, clear speaking voice and makes a wonderful stab at rendering those interminable, self-contradictory monologues of which the book chiefly consists, compelling and coherent but he is no ventriloquist: there is very little characterisation in the various voices, many of whom sound rather like one another. I've just been listening to Anton Lesser's virtuoso reading of Little Dorritt and the contrast could hardly be greater. Why K is called "Ka" throughout the book is a mystery. I hope Naxos will consider remaking this recording, using Muir's translation and Anton Lesser as the reader.
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