I say: Oh my word, how I do love me some Kafka. And The Trial merely cemented that love.
It starts off with Josef being arrested in his home for a crime he allegedly has committed, yet knows nothing about, and can get no information about either. He says that he is innocent, and as the men have no instructions to detain him, he goes to his office at the bank as per usual. As the story progresses he finds himself in court, gets a lawyer that tells him he has to file paper after paper, and meets other men who have been trying to prove their innocence for years.
And throughout all of this, he has no idea what it is he is trying to prove himself innocent of.
It’s absolutely brilliant.
One of the reasons I love Kafka is, of course, the way he twists and turns his stories while confusing the protagonist and reader alike. Unlike some other authors who have the protagonist confused, yet give the reader some clues here and there, Kafka doesn’t do that. Regardless of how I turned the dialogue around, there were no clues to be found, which is wherein the brilliance lies.
The reader is free to take away from the story as much as he/she pleases.
Josef goes from being calm and assured that his case is going to be over as soon as he is able to assert his innocence. But as time passes and he seems to be getting nowhere, his calm slowly dissolves into a sort on panicky madness. He starts behaving strangely, is increasingly paranoid since he doesn’t know who to trust, and finds himself in the most random of scenarios.
I laughed so hard at some of the absurdities in this novel.
I always recommend Kafka, even though I know that it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But even though I don’t like being in a perpetual state of confusion, there is a glimmer of hope in The Trial (and his other works) that keeps Josef (and me) going, because I want to see it through to the end.
And speaking of the end; I’m not going to say more than that I find it poetic.
Unfortunately, Kafka never finished The Trial, which is evident in some parts of the story – especially towards the end. It does take away some of the magic, which is why this gets a 4.5/5, but it’s not enough to render the story completely incoherent.
Well, no more than Kafka intended.