Josef K., a promising young banker, is arrested for an unstated crime. He is left to conduct his life and business as usual, except that now he may be summoned or charged at any time. Josef appears before a court and makes an impassioned speech in his defence, but is left none the wiser as to the accusations against him or the likely outcome of his case. Through family and acquaintances, he learns more about the judicial system, a corrupt, though ordered, maze of futility. When Josef devotes more of his time and efforts to clearing his name, his career prospects and mental state begin to erode. Frustrated with his impossible battle against a farce of a legal system, he begins to accept that his fate is out of his hands.
“Hey Miles,” you might be saying, “a novel about unspecified legal proceedings? Sounds boring to me.“
Well, why don’t you shut up? You think it’s easy writing a book? Franz Kafka pours his heart and soul—and who knows how many sleepless nights—into producing a work of art for your reading pleasure, and you’re just going to sit there and judge him? Unbelievable.
Having said that though, the book is really boring. From sterile plains to mundane flatlands, The Trial is a mobility scooter ride through the realm of bland. The dialogue, while occasionally teasing with interest and depth, mostly causes drowsiness; the action gives a bare minimum effort until the last page. Even the few hints of romance are quickly snuffed out. As if to compliment this, my copy of the book dispensed with dialogue spacing to create a monotonous, one hundred and eighty-page brick of text. Fun.
So what does Josef K.’s ordeal represent? The powerlessness of individuals against corrupt government? The vanity of bureaucracy? The inward struggle to accept what life throws at us? I don’t know—you can figure it out. I’m just impressed I made it to the end of the book.
The Trial by Franz Kafka is titled appropriately. 3/10
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