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The Trial

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  237,319 ratings  ·  7,742 reviews
Written in 1914 but not published until 1925, a year after Kafka’s death, The Trial is the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded ...more
Paperback, Vintage Classics, 255 pages
Published April 9th 2001 by Vintage (first published 1925)
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Emma Fang As Simon said, he actually wrote the last chapter (along with the first chapter) first as to not get too off track from his original idea since when K…moreAs Simon said, he actually wrote the last chapter (along with the first chapter) first as to not get too off track from his original idea since when Kafka wrote, he followed whatever ideas came to him in the spontaneity of the moment, rather than any outline. Therefore, it is believed that the last chapter is closely tied to the first, and that it is even an effect of it. The copy that I read (the Mike Mitchell translation) included explanatory notes as well as an introduction that broke down the plot and the devices Kafka used, which was very helpful. I would recommend it (it explains everything a lot better than I can) if you are still interested and looking for an answer. (less)

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Stephen
Kafka is tough.
Kafka doesn’t play and he doesn’t take prisoners.
His "in your grill" message of the cruel, incomprehensibility of life and the powerlessness of the individual is unequivocal, harsh and applied with the callous dispassion of a sadist.

Life sucks and then you die, alone, confused and without ever having the slightest conception of the great big WHY.

Fun huh?

Finishing The Trial I was left bewildered and emotionally distant, like my feelings were stuck looking out into the middle di
...more
s.penkevich
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Seriously, read this one
It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary

Nothing speaks a more profound truth than a pristine metaphor…

Funny, us, worming through the world ascribing meaning, logic and order to the dumb, blind forces of void. It’s all one can do to maintain sanity in the absurd reality of existence, but what is it worth? Are we trees in gale force winds fighting back with fists we do not possess? Is life the love of a cold, cruel former lover bating us on while only
...more
Aubrey
Has this ever happened to you? You're chugging your way through a book at a decent pace, it's down to the last legs, you've decided on the good ol' four star rating, it's true that it had some really good parts but ultimately you can't say that it was particularly amazing. And all of the sudden the last part slams into your face, you're knocked sprawling on your ass by the weight of the words spiraling around your head in a merry go round of pure literary power, and you swear the book is whisper ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
701. Der Prozess = The Trial, Franz Kafka

The Trial is a novel written by Franz Kafka between 1914 and 1915 and published posthumously in 1925.

One of his best-known works, it tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader. Heavily influenced by Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, Kafka even went so far as to call Dostoyevsky a blood relative.

Like Kafka's other
...more
Sean Barrs
This book haunts me. I can’t stop thinking about it because I have questions, questions and more questions; I have so many unanswered questions that I will never know the answer to, and it’s slowly killing me!

What is the trial? Is K actually guilty or is he innocent? Is this novel a nightmare sequence or a paranormal encountering? Why are so many characters never heard from again? And who is that mysterious figure at the end of the novel that witnesses K's fate? There are just so many questions,
...more
Lynn Beyrouthy
Aug 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
WHAT IS THIS SHIT.

I have read many reviews and saw that I belong to the minority who just didn’t like or get this book.

Like the author, I am going to leave The Trial unfinished and surrender to the fact that, unfortunately, Franz Kafka’s writing is way too bizarre, inane and unrealistic for my tastes.

The protagonist, a pretentious banker named Josef K. woke up one morning to find two strangers in his room who told him he was under arrest. The reason for his conviction is never revealed and even
...more
Greta
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arrested and executed without knowing why

"The Trial" is my favorite Kafka novel, written in 1915. It tells the story of Josef K., a man arrested and prosecuted, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader, leading to an intentionally abrupt execution. It is horrifying uncertainty, anxiety and powerlessness put into words.

“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”

Franz Kafka

Justice vs. The Law

J
...more
Kevin Ansbro
"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it isn’t open."
—Franz Kafka


Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.
This famous opening line becomes yet more intriguing as it pitches us directly into a scene whereby the first two protagonists are granted a degree of anonymity by the author, as he seeks to lure us into his philosophical daydream.
K is clearly under house arrest, but his perplexing captors aren’t at
...more
Manny
The tortured bureaucratic world described in The Trial always strikes me as startlingly modern. I wondered

How The Trial might have started if Kafka had been an academic writing in 2010

K's latest conference paper had been rejected, and now he sat in front of his laptop and read through the referees' comments. One of them, evidently not a native speaker of English, had sent a page of well-meaning advice, though K was unsure whether he understood his recommendations. The second referee had only wri
...more
Perry
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Crazy Train
All Aboard!



No novel comes close to this one in the intensely nightmarish portrayal of the type of dark "justice" of dictatorial governments, particularly those that came to power after its 1925 publication.

THE TRIAL, also like no other, gives the reader a special, and by all means necessary, appreciation for the criminal justice system and the fundamental rights of life and liberty that we take for granted in a democracy.

Imagine: you are charged with a crime, but no one will
...more
Lisa
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such is life that some people are convicted of nonexistent crimes while others are elevated to brilliant careers despite evident character deficiencies.

Who but Kafka can show the absurdity of "justice" in a world where power trumps reason, and political strength trumps fairness?

Is it only me turning paranoid, or does Kafka become more and more "realistic", as our world turns more and more "kafkaesque"?

Maybe the Non-Nobel Prize in Literature this year could go posthumously to all those dystopia
...more
Henry Avila
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Josef K. (just his initial is revealed), a banker in the beautiful city of Prague, now the capital of the Czech Republic, during the last days of the crumbling Austro- Hungarian Empire, before World War 1, such a man at the young age of thirty, to be in charge of a large bank's finances, yet he lives in a boarding house of Frau Grabach, why a successful person does, is a mystery. Maybe he likes the attractive women there, especially Fraulein Burstner, Josef is a bit of a wolf, then out of the sk ...more
Fergus
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If, like me, you walk a plainly spiritual path, the world is probably none too friendly toward you.

That’s understandable. And I think you should also know that should you plainly persist in it, you’ll probably be Put on Trial. Figuratively speaking.

Welcome to the Absurd.

But there’s also an UP side to that.

I think that anyone who has lived a highly idiosyncratic life, like Franz Kafka and my own totally colossally unsuperstar self, has in time developed a larger ideological container for their
...more
MJ Nicholls
Somebody must have made a false accusation against me, for I was accused of not having read The Trial without having even raised the topic. I fixed up a brew, poked in a madeleine, and summoned up the liars of recall. I recalled my sixteen-year-old self, in his bedroom in his backwater home town, feasting on Vonnegut, Poe, and Kafka one miserable summer . . . then the liars spoke to me: “Are you merely inserting Kafka’s The Trial as a book you ought to have read during that summer of pain, when ...more
Samra Yusuf
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated

I vividly remember asking my mother at quite earlier in my years, from where do we get babies, did you buy me from god? The corners of her eyes crinkled, she was reddened deep in effort to try not to burst in her husky laughter, I remember her asking me back with her flushed face, and what do you be doing with answer? I said quite prudently and emphatically, I want to have some. I don’t know where the tail of this baby-talk ended, but I didn’t manage to have any, to this date, albeit being conve
...more
Dan Schwent
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, oldies
On his thirtieth birthday, bank employee Josef K. is arrested for an unknown crime and prosecuted on certain Sundays by an unknown agency.

Yeah, that's a pretty vague teaser but how else do you drag someone into The Trial?

On the surface, The Trial is an absurd legal drama that nicely illustrates how inept bureaucracy can be. However, my little gray cells tell me that's just the tip of the iceberg. The Trial seems to be about how incomprehensible and absurd life can be at times. I don't think it's
...more
Ŧi̾l̷͖̀
Mar 06, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia, classics
First, a quick summary of this horrible, horrible novel. Some jackass gets arrested, he does things you would not do, sees people you would not see and has thoughts you would not have. After that, a priest and a parable then, mercifully, the end.

Now my thoughts. K. is a pompous ass with a very important job - to him. The bureaucrats are the best part of the whole story, all job description, no brains (like now!). K's uncle, lawyer and landlady are very forgettable. Fräulein Bürstner is intriguin
...more
Kinga
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-1925
Kafka's Trial is one of those books that are always present in cultural sphere and referenced ad nauseum. Despite never having read Kafka before I am quite sure I used the word 'Kafkaesque' on many occasions and maintained a semi-eloquent conversation about 'The Trial'.
I could've probably done without ever reading it but recently I resolved to take my literary pursuits seriously and since books seem to be the only thing in this world I truly care for I might as well take it to another level.

'The
...more
J.L.   Sutton
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Franz Kafka's The Trial is a frustrating experience, but that's at least partially the point. Our protagonist, Josef K is arrested, but neither he nor the reader know why he's been arrested. The remaining narrative is a sort of judgment on all the decisions he's made. Although he is 'free' for most of the novel, K's trial consumes all his time, and he is locked in a course of events over which he has little or no control.

How are we to judge K's trial? Indeed, K's entire ordeal is imposs
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Look at Joseph K., a bank officer living in a country with a constitution. He wakes up one day with strange men in his apartment telling him he's under arrest. Why or for what offense, no one knows. The arresting officers themselves don't know and can't tell him. Even if he's under arrest, however, no one picks him up or locks him in jail. He can still go to his office, work, perform his customary daily chores, and do whatever he wants to do as he awaits his trial. But he is understandably anxio ...more
Calista
I will be honest here and say that this went over my head.

I'm not sure why, but I had a hard time getting into the story and understanding what was really going on. I fell like I was a little dazed reading this.

I think I really enjoy reading books like this where there is a lot of metaphor that isn't really explained in a group setting with people who sorta get stuff like this. I enjoy the conversation and then beginning to understand the text more. It's less fun by myself. I have been over-stim
...more
Vit Babenco
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“After all, K. lived in a state governed by law, there was universal peace, all statutes were in force; who dared assault him in his own lodgings?”
The state is an ogre… The citizen is a pygmy… And an ogre can do with a pygmy whatever it wishes… But ogres prefer to eat pygmies and for appearance’s sake they use law… And to apply law there are courts and bureaucracy.
“The gradations and ranks of the court are infinite, extending beyond the ken even of initiates. The proceedings in the courts of law
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Who Dared Seize Him?

Ever since first reading this novel in school, I've assumed the word "Kafkaesque" described an aspect of society analogous to living under a totalitarian state.

For much of this thoroughly enjoyable re-read, I persisted with this view.

However, when Joseph K. is arrested with no apparent justification, he is more surprised than an inhabitant of a fascist state. He asks:

"Who could these men be? What were they talking about? What authority could they represent? K. lived in a coun
...more
Kaph
Verdict: A tome of existentialist tripe so bleak and pointless there isn’t even a trial.

There comes a point in the evolution all art; visual, literary, musical, wherein those who create it eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and become too self aware. ‘Look at this medium,’ they proclaim. ‘We have been following rules, society imposed rules limiting what our work can be, limiting what *we* can be!’ It shines suddenly and clearly before them, conventions that were never questioned are
...more
David Schaafsma
“It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.”

“A melancholy conclusion,” said K. “It turns lying into a universal principle.”

I reread The Trial and will reread “The Metamorphosis” in order to better read Kafka’s Letters to Milena, which I had only begun. I have long said this is one of the great works of literature, and I still think so, but I could also see how the tedious nature of K’s proceedings could translate into the tedium of reading for some r
...more
Gabrielle
I was sitting in my office’s kitchenette, reading this book while stuffing sushi in my mouth. A colleague of mine walked by and asked me what the book was about, so I told him “It’s about a guy who gets arrested for an unspecified crime he doesn’t know he committed, and tries to untangle the bureaucratic net he’s been caught in.” My colleague asked me if it was inspired by real events. I predictably replied: “Sure, it was inspired by what it’s like to work here.” As you may guess, I am my office ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic, literature
I have been terminated from my job here in the Middle East and is currently in the process of relocating to India. It's a somewhat nightmarish scenario, uprooting oneself after ten years; that too, unexpectedly. So I am plagued by disturbing dreams in the night where I am caught in situations without escape (forgetting luggage at the airport, searching for house in a country whose language is unknown to you, etc.). This is pretty much common for me and these dreams will disappear once I am past ...more
Jan-Maat
Let me pull up a chair, if you are offering, I'll have a beer, no, well water will be fine, from the tap, oh a bottle, perhaps you could spare me a slice of lemon then ?

I had an idea to re-read the trial both in translation and the original and then write a double review, contrasting the two and seeing if subtly or substantively Kafka's story became somebody else's in the course of crossing the linguistic border. The first time I read it in German it was a revelation, as turning to the original
...more
Czarny Pies
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of Great Literature
Recommended to Czarny by: In the 1960s there was talk of nothing except Kafka.
Shelves: german-lit
Franz Kafka's Trial is one of the basic works of Twentieth Century literature that everyone should read. It stands the paradigm of the Whodunit on its head. We know from the first chapter that the hero K is the guilty person. We spend the rest of the novel trying to find out what on earth his crime was.

The Trial asks the big questions in a startling manner. Man has created a cruel and indifferent society ruled by an absurd bureaucracy. Has God also created an absurd world?

At the end of the book
...more
Cecily
May 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Quintissential Kafka, apparently prompted by an unexpected interrogation in a Berlin hotel room re his intentions re Felice, conducted by her and a couple of friends. Officials of a vague and unspecified court arrest K for an unspecified crime - but he never queries the charge. An endless stream of futile investigations and obscure legal practices ensue. A metaphor for exploring the meaning (or otherwise) of life, the burden of duty, and struggling to find salvation aided by the intercessions of ...more
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Franz Kafka was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. He was born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary. His unique body of writing—much of which is incomplete and which was mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western literature.

His stories include "The Metamorph
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