Why you should read ‘The Trial’ (Kafka)


Synopsis: A man wakes up to find that he has been arrested; however neither the nature of his crime nor that of the authority prosecuting him is revealed to him or to the reader.

Reasons why you might like The Trial :

There are quite a few mysteries lurking in this book,and when you manage to grab some information about the authority,the crime or the ways to avoid execution,you just want to read more and more. In short, the more you discover, the more you want to know. Besides,the incredibly hot pace at which events follow in The Trial contributes even more to making it a compelling book.

2.The Focal Point.
Right at the beginning, we sense that there is a very strong focal point in the story.And Franz Kafka never loses it in sight,as each and every thing he includes in the story (the dialogues,the characters,the events,etc) is relevant to K’s quest.This is a very intense book.

3.The Protagonist
His name is Joseph K,but he is referred to as ‘K’.Why ‘K’? Because Kafka didn’t want to give him an individuality,in which case the character would seem to be living his own adventure.’K’ is not a name,but rather a code name purposed to identify the protagonist.Why did Kafka feel the need to give him a code name? Simply to help us to better identify with K and his quest: his adventure is ours; K is us.

4.The Depth
The Trial is very deep in meaning.Some see it as a parable,others see it as an extremely poignant story focusing on the ruthlessness of bureaucracy.But irrespective of the way you choose to see it, The Trial will not leave you indifferent.It is a timeless and unique masterpiece.

As we go through the story,we see how K gradually turns sick.And as he becomes so, we feel a certain compassion for him,for we realise that there is much realism underlying his absurd ordeal.In short,we are as horrified as K;Kakfa has succeeded in transcending the barrier between fiction and realism.

6.A New World.
Oddly enough, the first book that came to my mind when reading The Trial was Alice in Wonderland.In his book,Franz Kafka introduces us to a bizarre world where every thing is eerier than the other and which is,thus,reminiscent of Lewis Caroll’s wonderland.

What you might not like in The Trial:

1.The Translation.
The English translation of the old German used by Kafka when writing his books is not as modern as the English from Golding,Huxley,Lee etc.While it is not at all archaic,it is quite hard to follow and not so fluid as you might wish it to be.

2.The Required Concentration.
The Trial is not an easy read.To keep track with the storyline,we have to understand and memorize all the complex legal terms in the book.Our task is made even more difficult by the novelty of those terms,for keep it mind that the world in this book is totally different from ours.

Like most Kafka’s other works, The Trial is unfinished. While it does have an ending,it nonetheless lacks some pieces of information that would have rendered its storyline more coherent.Some pieces are obviously lacking to the puzzle,and we have to imagine what they look like to get a better idea of the puzzle’s holistic appearance.

Verdict: The Trial is a cult book which easily belongs to the likes of Catch 22,The Outsider, Catcher in the Rye or 1984. It is unique in every aspect: the theme,the characters,the bizarre world and the author’s style.And what I liked best with this book is that it grows on you.After reading The Trial and getting back to living your life, you’ll note that Kafka’s novel wasn’t as absurd and fictional as it might have looked; 88 years after its publication, this literary gem is still extremely relevant to the present world.You will definitely enjoy it,as long as you seek meaning,and not beauty,in it.So if you want to read a beautiful book,then don’t go for this one.


7 thoughts on “Why you should read ‘The Trial’ (Kafka)”

    1. Thanks! 😀
      I’ve read all his novels,but none of his short stories.
      The one you’ve linked me to is really great. That’s what I love with Kafka’s world: there’s sense in his absurd.
      I’ll definitely look to buy his short stories next time I go online shopping!

  1. I’m looking forward to reading The Trial, would you recommend reading this book before or after “Crime and Punishment”? I’ve read that Kafka was heavily influenced by “Crime and Punishment.”

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