The Trial – Franz Kafka

‘The Trial’ is the world-famous novel written by Franz Kafka (1883-1924) and posthumously published in 1925. Kafka was born into a Czech-Jewish, German-speaking merchant family. He studied law and worked for an insurance company at a meager salary. To top up his income he started writing in his spare time.

Josef K.

One morning Josef K., banker and bachelor, wakes up to find two men in his room who place him under arrest for an unspecified charge. When K. tries to find out the substance of the charge against him to prove his innocence, he is pulled through a court system whose processes are as obscure as the charge laid against him. Lawyers and judges fail him again and again and force his case to stagnation.

The reader follows K. in a world bereft of vital information that might shed light on his plight and shares K.’s sense of hopelessness. The nature of his crime is revealed neither to K. nor to the reader. In the Kafkan world time and space are rearranged so that they either work for or against the protagonist, a world in which the protagonist never knows what is happening, or when. Kafka began writing The Trial in 1914. Although he finished the final chapter, he never completed the novel. The 1962, Orson Welles film adaption of ‘The Trial’ is still available on DVD. Anthony Perkin played Josef K. Welles himself plays the lawyer.

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