The Trial

Franz Kafka‘s The Trial was published posthumously shortly after his death (and against the author’s will) by his friend Max Brod. It was never completely finished and it was unclear how the chapters were to be ordered. This is one of the main reasons why the book often feels like a collection of chapters, instead of a story with a continuous flow, and also one of the main reasons why the reading of it was a painful process to me.

This was the first book I read from Kafka. I was told already by many people that I should have started with the Metamorphosis (nicely reviewed here and here), and although it was a hard reading, I stuck with it, and ended up finding it very interesting.

But keep in mind this is no pleasant reading. Kafka’s writing is dense and lacks paragraphs, which often makes it a difficult reading, and his whole style is really dark, making the reader feel anxious, sometimes confused, and most of all, very impotent in the face of the facts that are portrayed.

Actually impotence towards the bureaucratic judicial system is the theme to the whole story. In The Trial we see the main character, Josef K. (we never learn his last name), facing accusations that are never clear, in a trial instigated by a sort of omnipotent court that has access to any information or place at any time, and holds authority to decide everybody’s fate, but weirdly conducts its business in dark and suspicious places.
Josef K. always claims his innocence, and throughout a series of darkly humored episodes he tries to get the best at the court by going around the system in a strange game of influences, dealing with the judicial bureaucracy and various absurd situations that start to debilitate his sanity.

This book is like a nightmare of dystopia and paranoia written in a labyrinthic style, but at the same time displays a very conscious story that could be related to many of today’s Law issues. It’s a very important work, relevant not only as a mark in contemporaneous literature but also as, now more than ever, the government and its bureaucracies assume a great impact on everyday life, and more often constitute an obstacle to the so acclaimed “pursuit of happiness”.


FNAC LINK (portuguese translated version)


2 Responses to “The Trial”

  1. 1 hernâni 29 August, 2009 at 8:48 am

    ainda so vi o filme, tenho a vhs em casa se quiseres empresto-ta.

  2. 2 joaoxcordeiro 3 September, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Tenho isso como futuro livro a ler. Mas ainda não tive coragem sequer de pegar em Sommerset Maugham (Escravidão Humana), quanto mais passar a Kafka lol.

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