Kevin Ansbro's Reviews > The Trial

The Trial by Franz Kafka
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
43579369
"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 liberty to tell him if he has been arrested. Who are they, K wonders? They look as if they might be policemen, but neither he, nor the reader, can be certain. They could be pranksters for all he knows. Even the country he lives in isn’t name-checked.
So many unanswered questions:
Who is he?
Who are they?
Why has he been arrested?
Where are we?
Does time have a beginning or an end?
Why did the chicken cross the road?

This, my fine bibliophilic friends, is an enigma burritoed in a paradox.
There is something farcical about the situation he finds himself in; the ensuing cockeyed exchange of dialogue was almost Monty Pythonesque.
I shall paraphrase (apologies to Mr Kafka)...
"Take me to your superior!"
"He will see you as soon as he wants to see you."
"Who are you?"
"We’re free, you’re not, and you’re going to be put on trial."
"On trial, for what?"
"Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, isn’t it, eh? Beautiful plumage."

The absurdity continues.
There follows a kangaroo court and the comically surreal appearance of a whip-man, whose job it is to give people a damn good flogging. I don’t know if I was meant to be outraged, but I found it really funny (there’s something wrong with me, I’m sure of it).

Kafka uses existentialism like Banksy uses a spray can. K is trying to remain rational while the world around him has become irrational - something most of us have experienced at some stage in our lives.
As is also the case with Orwell’s 1984, this book hints at the totalitarian regimes that were likely to follow.

I don’t profess to understand much of what Kafka hoped to symbolise in this allegorical mystery (I suspect he didn’t want anyone to unlock all of its secrets anyway), and one gets the feeling that he deliberately leads us into a literary cul-de-sac of his own choosing.

The blurb describes the book as being ‘terrifying’ and ‘chilling’. I found it to be neither.
If anything, I found it rather droll.
Let me explain myself thus…
I have a lugubrious friend. His name is Mark.
Mark is so overly pessimistic and melancholic, that he creases me up with laughter. Then, when he asks me what it is that’s so funny (with that glum look on his face), I crack up even more!
He’s a hoot, and so is this book!
I thoroughly enjoyed being trapped in Franz Kafka’s web and I must revisit Metamorphosis, his crowning achievement.
I read it years ago, when I was too young to properly ‘get’ it.
Not that I’m likely to totally understand it even now! : )
130 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Trial.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

November 4, 2017 – Shelved
November 4, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
January 8, 2018 – Started Reading
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: gentle-humour
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: human-cruelty
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: human-psyche
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: literature-for-grown-ups
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: modern-fable
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: morality
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: recommended-by-cecily
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: parable
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: years-ahead-of-its-time
January 11, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 73 (73 new)


message 1: by Paromjit (new)

Paromjit Simply glorious, Kevin! :)


Kevin Ansbro Paromjit wrote: "Simply glorious, Kevin! :)"

Thanks, Paromjit!
You are always so kind.


Fernando Hats off to a great review about a book of my favorite writer.


message 4: by Jules (new)

Jules Great review, Kevin 😊


message 5: by Kevin (last edited Jan 11, 2018 11:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kevin Ansbro Fernando wrote: "Hats off to a great review about a book of my favorite writer."

Gracias, Fernando. Muy amable!


Kevin Ansbro Jules wrote: "Great review, Kevin 😊"

Thanks, Jules! I appreciate you reading it. : )


Kevin Ansbro Kimber wrote: "Marvelous review, Kevin! : )"

Thanks, Kimber! Kind of you to say! : )


message 8: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Another great review, Kevin!


message 9: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Awesome review, Kevin!!! :D


Cecily Kafka and Mexican food? You always find a startling analogy, which is especially apt for Kafka.

And don't feel bad about finding it funny. He works often have more humour than people expect, and when he read aloud in literary soirees in Prague, laughter was common.

But the shelving... I don't recall instructing you! Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and even happier to read your clever and entertaining review.


Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader I loved your description of your friend, Mark! I should have known you could find a fun and enlightening spin on Kafka, Kevin!


message 12: by Biblio (last edited Jan 11, 2018 02:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Biblio Curious "Kafka uses existentialism like Banksy uses a spray can." That's a great sentence!

I found the flogging scene comical, there's nothing wrong. Without getting too philosophical, I think it's supposed to be funny or awkward so the reader feels what they're not supposed to feel when they read it.


message 13: by Susanne (new)

Susanne  Strong Superb review Kevin!


message 14: by Bianca (last edited Jan 11, 2018 04:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bianca You've got such a way with words, I'm jealous, but I also appreciate having the opportunity to read your insightful reviews. After reading Metamorphosis, which it didn't impress me much, I was telling myself I should re-read Kafka, see how it stacks up 20+ years later.


message 15: by Jaline (new)

Jaline Brilliant, witty - and comically insightful - review, Kevin!


Kevin Ansbro Tammy wrote: "Another great review, Kevin!"

Thank you, Tammy, I appreciate that!


Kevin Ansbro Deanna wrote: "Awesome review, Kevin!!! :D"

Thanks, Dee. You're great!


message 18: by Kevin (last edited Jan 11, 2018 11:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kevin Ansbro Cecily wrote: " But the shelving... I don't recall instructing you!"
I am rather naughty, Cecily. I created a shelf for you when you first urged me to read Ubik, and I've impishly used it ever since (each time you've inspired me to read a book)!
"Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and even happier to read your clever and entertaining review..."
Thank you so much, Cecily, that means a lot, my dear friend!


Kevin Ansbro Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader wrote: "I loved your description of your friend, Mark! I should have known you could find a fun and enlightening spin on Kafka, Kevin!"

Thanks, Jennifer!
I can't help it, the more serious a person is, the funnier I find them!
: D
Mark is unintentionally hilarious!


message 20: by Paula (new)

Paula Kalin A fun review to read, Kevin. Very well done!


message 21: by Kevin (last edited Jan 11, 2018 11:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kevin Ansbro Biblio wrote: ""Kafka uses existentialism like Banksy uses a spray can." That's a great sentence!

I found the flogging scene comical, there's nothing wrong. Without getting too philosophical, I think it's suppo..."


Thanks, Biblio!
Pleased you said that. While I was reading that scene, I thought *this is hilarious*, but wondered if this was intended.


Kevin Ansbro Susanne wrote: "Superb review Kevin!"

Thanks, Suzanne!


Kevin Ansbro Bianca wrote: "You've got such a way with words, I'm jealous, but I also appreciate having the opportunity to read your insightful reviews. After reading Metamorphosis, which it didn't impress me much, I was tell..."

Far too kind, Bianca.
You've got nothing to feel jealous about. I'm useless at a shedload of other things! : )


Kevin Ansbro Jaline wrote: "Brilliant, witty - and comically insightful - review, Kevin!"

You are just wonderful, Jaline. Thank you!


Kevin Ansbro Paula wrote: "A fun review to read, Kevin. Very well done!"

Thanks, Paula. I appreciate that!


message 26: by Apatt (new)

Apatt Ha! Great review, my friend. Makes me pine for the fjord! I only read Kafka's Metamorphosis. I don't profess to understand that one either, but it is also quite hooty! 🤣


Kevin Ansbro Apatt wrote: "Ha! Great review, my friend. Makes me pine for the fjord! I only read Kafka's Metamorphosis. I don't profess to understand that one either, but it is also quite hooty! 🤣"

Thank you for making me smile on a regular basis, Apatt! : )


message 28: by Larry (new)

Larry H Terrific review, Kevin! Good on you for reading some of these classics!


message 29: by Alex (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alex I have to say I like Orwell more.


message 30: by Candi (new)

Candi A splendid review and a great way to jump start my morning, Kevin! I'm not sure I'm convinced to read this yet, but I am at least tempted to consider it now :)


message 31: by Wen (new)

Wen Fav review! I’d like to read this one too.


message 32: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Wonderful, Kevin! A great review of one of my favourite books!


message 33: by Cheri (new)

Cheri Kevin, I love your review on this, although I'm doubtful I will ever get around to reading it, but I especially enjoyed your "explanation" using your lugubrious friend... fabulous, my dear!


Kevin Ansbro Larry wrote: "Terrific review, Kevin! Good on you for reading some of these classics!"

Thanks, Larry! Your legendary smile is welcome on my page any day!
: D


message 35: by Kevin (last edited Jan 12, 2018 11:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kevin Ansbro Alex wrote: "I have to say I like Orwell more."

I totally get that, Alex: Orwell's 1984 handcuffs you to a stark, no-nonsense story that has resonated through time, but it could be argued that he 'borrowed' the idea of being helpless in a dystopian-totalitarian futureworld from Kafka himself.
I love Orwell's classic novel, but because his writing is workmanlike, I favour the surrealism of Kafka's work.


Kevin Ansbro Candi wrote: "A splendid review and a great way to jump start my morning, Kevin! I'm not sure I'm convinced to read this yet, but I am at least tempted to consider it now :)"

Thanks, Candi. Happy to jumpstart your morning! : )


Kevin Ansbro Wen wrote: "Fav review! I’d like to read this one too."

Thanks, Wen!


Kevin Ansbro Lisa wrote: "Wonderful, Kevin! A great review of one of my favourite books!"

Thanks, Lisa! We don't like run-of-the-mill, do we? : )


Kevin Ansbro Cheri wrote: "Kevin, I love your review on this, although I'm doubtful I will ever get around to reading it, but I especially enjoyed your "explanation" using your lugubrious friend... fabulous, my dear!"

Thanks, dear Cheri. It's true. I find overly-serious, or cantankerous people hilarious for some anomalous reason! : )


message 40: by Nat (new)

Nat K Why DID the chicken cross the road? Only kidding. Great review Kevin.

I saw "The Trial" performed on stage, and it was incredible.


message 41: by Elyse (new) - added it

Elyse Walters Maybe??????? you should send that quote to our President?/!!!!!!!!! shhhhh, ok, I'm bad!!!
I'm just still in shock of what he said yesterday. ---
A "hoot" of a book, huh? ---well a great review, Mr. Kevin!!!!!!! xoxo


message 42: by Esil (new)

Esil Great review, Kevin. Haven’t read Kafka since university but you’re tempting me.


message 43: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Ha! Fun and energetic review as always, Kevin. I’m sure glad the enigma is burritoed in a paradox. Where the hell else could it be, lol? Love your phrases, like that one, and they make me laugh. Thank you! I should revisit these Kafka books (this one and Metamorphosis). I loved them when I was an embryo!


Kevin Ansbro Nat wrote: "Why DID the chicken cross the road? Only kidding. Great review Kevin.

I saw "The Trial" performed on stage, and it was incredible."


I love that you're a proper culture vulture, Nat. Good on you, possum! : )


Kevin Ansbro Elyse wrote: "Maybe??????? you should send that quote to our President?/!!!!!!!!! shhhhh, ok, I'm bad!!!
I'm just still in shock of what he said yesterday. ---
A "hoot" of a book, huh? ---well a great review, Mr..."


Ha! Thanks, lovely Mrs Elyse! x


Kevin Ansbro Esil wrote: "Great review, Kevin. Haven’t read Kafka since university but you’re tempting me."

Thanks, Esil. I'm like the serpent in the Garden of Eden! : )


Kevin Ansbro Debbie wrote: "Ha! Fun and energetic review as always, Kevin. I’m sure glad the enigma is burritoed in a paradox. Where the hell else could it be, lol? Love your phrases, like that one, and they make me laugh. Th..."

Debbie, I'm always grateful for your kind comments. And you're quite the Countess of Comedy yourself!


message 48: by Matt (new)

Matt Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.

Will only a little change you can start a whole other story:

Someone must have been telling fake news about Donald T., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.


message 49: by Jo (new)

Jo Kevin I’m not sure I’d be able to read this now without your review in mind and end up chortling when I should be mulling on existential angst! Thanks for an early morning chuckle!


Kevin Ansbro Matt wrote: "Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.

Will only a little change you can start a whole other story:

Someone must ..."


Ha! I try not to embroil myself with politics, Matt, but that was funny! : )


« previous 1
back to top