Friday, June 27, 2014

The Trial (by Franz Kafka)


This was the inaugural selection for my book club, the League of Unreliable Narrators. (The book club is conducted over Skype and consists of me and my friend Chris.) Chris had read it multiple times, but I had not read it at all, and we selected the Breon Mitchell translation. We had lots of intense late-night conversations about Josef K. and his trial and the nuances of the translation and what is Kafka trying to say anyway and how did he feel about religion and isn't the fact that it's unknowable what makes it so amazing and holy shit that ending. 

My primary takeaway is the complexity of this book. Josef K. is not sympathetic; he doesn't act in the most self-interested way that the reader might be able to identify with. But the character who arguably does, Block, is not particularly sympathetic either. But least of all is the system they are both enmeshed in. And there are parables inside parables inside parables. So much of it has a dreamlike quality--I have this pet theory that the final chapter is Josef K.'s suicidal hallucination, based on absolutely no evidence.

I don't feel like I can write a cogent blog post about this novel, really. I'll be turning it over in my head for a long time. It's excellent and elusive, and so fun to talk about into the wee hours with a good friend.

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