Todd Martin's Reviews > Franz Kafka's The Castle

Franz Kafka's The Castle by David Fishelson
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Mar 18, 10

bookshelves: fiction
Read from March 14 to 18, 2010

Reading Kafka's "The Castle" is like being trapped inside the head of a mental patient. It's irrational, stifling, claustrophobic, and filled with the sound of an unrelenting inner monologue that is helplessly compelled to analyze even the minutest occurrence for significance. The voice is ponderous, implacable and unremitting in its droning monotony. I almost agree with the author himself who requested the manuscript to be burned upon his death.

There was, however, one glimmer of an interesting thread in which the character Olga recounts the disgrace of her father after villagers choose to shun the family (from fear and self interest) following an altercation with an emissary of the castle. Though the castle takes no overt actions against the father, his livelihood and social standing is destroyed. In an attempt to seek redemption he appeals to the castle for forgiveness. Oblivious as to the nature of the offence the castle is unable to grant a pardon resulting in the father being forced into a position of first having to petition them of his guilt.

The absurd scenario of being forced to confess ones guilt to an entity one has not offended in an effort to obtain a pardon from said entity which is incapable of granting it is reminiscent of the Catholic Church and its confessional and highlights the ridiculous nature of both (though it’s possible Kafka had other allusions in mind).

With that one exception, I found the book to be a laborious and dreary read.

Note: Reading other GoodReads comments you’ll see that most find the book less than enjoyable, yet consistently rate the book highly. This incongruity can likely be explained by the general perception that an author’s fame is in every instance deserved, coupled with a herd mentality and desire for personal conformity.
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