Monday, October 3, 2011

The Trial

Huh?!? What?!? How?!? Why?!? These monosyllabic words will fill your head continually as you read Franz Kafka’s The Trial (165 pages). You are instantly dragged into the realistic, yet non-sensical, world Kafka has created for this novella.

Kafka manages to make you feel just as lost as Josef K., the main character, in the events that make up the year of The Trial. When K. is confused, you are confused. When K. questions the ‘facts’ provided to him around the mysterious laws, you question those facts. When K. considers just giving up, you consider just putting down the book because you can’t make sense of it (although you won’t because you really want to see how it all ends).

I am arguably very judgmental of fictional characters and either root for, or against, them continually throughout the course of a narrative. However, I found myself constantly torn between deeming K. the victim or viewing him as an arrogant arse!

As I mentioned in the start of this post, the novella will continually make you question exactly what you are reading and how it makes any sense in the realistic world the narrative inhabits. At some points, Kafka tricks you into believing the story is taking a more logical turn; however, he will suddenly throw a spanner in the work. For example, at the end of Chapter Four the narrative seems to become a more ‘regular’ story but Chapter Five immediately adds that crazy aspect the rest of the story requires;

“…he heard a sigh from behind a door which he had himself never opened but which he had always thought just led into a junk room. He stood in amazement and listened again to establish whether he might not be mistaken […] in the cupboard-like room itself stood three men, crouching under the low ceiling […] one of the men was clearly in charge, and attracted attention by being dressed in a king of dark leather costume which left his neck and chest and his arms exposed.” (Kafka 60)

K. then sees that this leather bound gentleman is beating (spanking) the two cops that arrested K. in the first chapter; this thrashing then continues for a few days.

I’m not sure about anyone else but whenever I opened junk room doors at my old office I never saw, or expected to see, a man spanking two other large men.

The edition I read was ISBN: 978-0-486-47061-0.

Kafka, Franz. The Trial. Trans. David Wyllie. New York: Dover Publications, 2009. Print.


  1. You summed it up nicely! I remember reading this sat on a station platform, completely confused and becoming increasingly paranoid about my fellow passengers. I think that's the effect Kafka has on you with this!

  2. Thank you very much!

    He really is an author that makes you question basically everything around you; best to read his work in a padded room, alone!