Classic Literature Book Review

The Trial

by Franz Kafka
Reviewed date: 2023 Aug 15
Rating: 1
165 pages
Translated from the German by David Wyllie
cover art

Maybe this is better in the original German, but this is a bad book. I read The Trial because I was familiar with the basic idea—a man is arrested but not told the charges against him, and must navigate a murky and labyrinthine bureaucracy—and I wanted to get more insight. But there isn't any more. That's all there is. One clever idea, and then 165 pages of monotony. There's no more insight to be gained beyond the first intriguing idea.

The idea of The Trial is worth knowing about, but you don't need to read the book to get that. A Wikipedia plot summary is sufficient. The actual reality of The Trial is that it's not worth reading.

One thing I found is that, the more I read The Trial, the less I believed any of it was real. (I mean real within the context of the story. Of course the book is a novel.) The entire trial makes more sense as a prolonged hallucination of a man going mad. Josef K. is a neurotic, unstable man, and his actions and reactions are not those of a mentally healthy person. He is living in a delusion. What challenges this interpretation, though, is the abrupt ending in which Josef K. is killed by the secret police.

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