Siddharth's Reviews > The Trial

The Trial by Franz Kafka
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
44525691
's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: adapted-to-a-movie, classic, disturbing, dystopia


The text cannot be altered, and the various opinions are often no more than an expression of despair over it.



This text perfectly describes this book. But the author put it at around the 90% mark, right when the book is about to end and you are starting to understand the kind of closure you will get from this book.


As far as disorienting books go, I have found those with non-linear timelines to be the most disorienting. In particular, you don't know what's going on, you have completely lost your place in the story of the book, you are invested in seeing the main character get out of whatever jam they are in but you have absolutely no clue where to go or which way will take the character forward and which will simply be a regression.


The Trial started (for me) with all of these confusions. K. was arrested, but he could keep working. The men who came to his house to tell him he was arrested were strange and didn't behave as powerful men would have, K. is extremely apologetic to his neighbours and does some strange stuff: visiting a female neighbour at around 11 pm and so on. He is annoyed and confused, just as I was annoyed and confused at the author's disinterest in telling me what was going on.


This feeling never quite goes away, throughout the book. At every step, you think this new character is probably not going to be very important, and they are not, but you get a lot of exposition about them and if it's a female character, they are immediately taken by K.'s looks and fall in love with him. The author even addresses this himself while talking about how all the accused were attractive in one way or another:



this peculiarity of hers consists in this; Leni finds most of the accused attractive. She attaches herself to each of them, loves each of them, even seems to be loved by each of them; then she sometimes entertains me by telling me about them when I allow her to. I am not so astonished by all of this as you seem to be.



The other thing that Kafka does a disturbingly good job at is showing government offices, the people working in them and the way proceedings are handled. I had to visit the Regional Passport Office in Kolkata, India once. And the first trip that K. takes on a Sunday to the court sounded eerily famiiar because it was on a similar errand: I had no idea why I didn't have my passport yet, I had to wait in line from about 10 am to 2 pm, there were a lot of people around me, the clerks in the office were the king-makers that day, the inability to see any of the senior officers in the office who would certainly understand my situation and finally, the breathlessness when you are just inside the door and are not yet used to the universal lack of ventilation.



As a result, the accused and his defence don't have access even to the court records, and especially not to the indictment, and that means we generally don't know - or at least not precisely - what the first documents need to be about, which means that if they do contain anything of relevance to the case it's only by a lucky coincidence.



P.S. The second-last chapter in the cathedral leading up to the ending is weird. It has an anecdote about a doorman and it sounds vaguely similar to K.'s story and experience with the court, but not really.


Some quotes

he admits he doesn't know the law and at the same time insists he's innocent.



-- When stated as literally as that, it seems rather stupid to ever say that one is innocent or that someone else is guilty because no one knows the law. When we say we're innocent, I think we tend to use our value judgement of right and wrong and try to decide what we would classify what we did as; thinking about innocence as something determined by one's value system and not by the written word of law.



He had, of course, begun work straight away and was nearly ready to submit the first documents. They would be very important because the first impression made by the defence will often determine the whole course of the proceedings. Unfortunately, though, he would still have to make it clear to K. that the first documents submitted are sometimes not even read by the court. They simply put them with the other documents and point out that, for the time being, questioning and observing the accused are much more important than anything written.



-- Catch-22 style contradiction! LOVE IT



As a result, the accused and his defence don't have access even to the court records, and especially not to the indictment, and that means we generally don't know - or at least not precisely - what the first documents need to be about, which means that if they do contain anything of relevance to the case it's only by a lucky coincidence.




"After a certain point in the proceedings," said the lawyer quietly and calmly, "nothing new of any importance ever happens. So many litigants, at the same stage in their trials, have stood before me just like you are now and spoken in the same way."



flag

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

Reading Progress

January 10, 2020 – Started Reading
January 10, 2020 – Shelved
January 18, 2020 – Shelved as: adapted-to-a-movie
January 18, 2020 – Shelved as: classic
January 18, 2020 – Shelved as: disturbing
January 18, 2020 – Shelved as: dystopia
January 18, 2020 – Finished Reading

No comments have been added yet.