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This is the second Kafka novella I've read and it's basically the same as The Trial. We find K battling unseen authorities that make rules he doesn't know about and doesn't understand. He talks a lot to the villagers/peasants/workers and falls in love, gets engaged - all within the space of about a day - then just as quickly isn't engaged or in love. He does succeed in talking to a couple of officials but nothing can be done to help him and he certainly doesn't get anywhere near The Castle. At the end the books stops dead in the middle of a sentence. I suppose that's supposed to mean somethign but if it did it went past me. I read this to the end so it held my interest and I enjoyed it but it is very, very similar to The Trial so I probably won't read it again.
The Trial is one of Kafka's most famous works. It is a novel although my copy was only 172 pages long. I read it because I wanted to find out what Kafka was like as an author. I'm not sure that I have found that out conclusively but I do know that I like his prose. The Trial is about Josef K who is charged and put on trial by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader. Detailed descriptions are given of the characters, the surroundings, how Josef K is feeling and how he is affected by The Trial and the general atmosphere of Josef K's surroundings at any given time. I found out through some internet research that The Trial was never finished but there is a chapter at the end that brings the story to a close. The prose is satisfyingly good and not at all sparse. Neither is it too plentiful, nor, given that the reader never knows of what Josef K is on trial for, too vague. And it does come to something of a satisfying end, which I won't reveal. What happens to Josef K can be construed as weird (the best word that I can think of) and the people he chooses to seek advice from are not necessarily the most obvious, which I liked. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading the other work contained in my copy of The Essential Kafka. Highly recommended
Rescued Thread Royal Rother 16th June 2006 02:15 PM Having lent a couple of books to a retired avid reader in my local (The CHildren's War and The Rift, which he rated as excellent and very good respectively) we now often discuss books over a pint or 2 at the weekend. I have never really touched the classics. I don't read to think, I read to escape and enjoy and somehow since childhood classics = boring. My loss I know but there you go. Anyway this chap decided he'd like to expand my repertoire a bit by introducing me to the likes of Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn and Kafka, and thought he'd start me off with Kafka's short stories, the first of which is Metamorphosis. I found it very interesting to read, because of what it was, but I haven't really made up my mind as to what I really thought about it. Is it something that I enjoyed, has it made me think, could this be the start of a new phase for me? I'm not sure, but having finished it last night I have found myself drifting back to it almost sub-consciously during the day, so maybe it has got in there and made me think about stuff. As a very amateur student of psychology and personal development I guess there has to be a space in my mind for this sort of thing so I shall have to proceed further down this path of education I suppose. I do enjoy reading thrillers in big chunks and did feel slightly as if I was missing that whilst reading the mere 60 pages that was Metamorphosis over 3 or 4 nights. It's not meant to be a page turner. Anyway I haven't actually said anything about it yet, but for those who don't know it is a story about a man who wakes up one morning after a fitful night dreaming to find he has turned into an insect. Beetle-ish I suppose. He still thinks like a human but after the first few hours is completely unable to communicate with anyone, so he stays in his room, usually hiding under the sofa so no-one can see him. Although his sister initially feeds him and cleans his room his parents are repulsed by him and will have virtually nothing to do with him. Eventually everyone in the family gets on with their lives and effectively through neglect he dies and they are relieved. They have no inclination of the cruelty they have inflicted on their son / brother and no idea that underneath his exterior he was indeed still the thinking caring feeling human he always was. I felt it was a story highlighting the way in which the human race neglect what they don't understand, often make little effort to understand the ways of other races, creeds, religions, animals, (edit: and those with disabilities and sickness) on this planet and would rather they never interfered with their own lives. For me it also illustrated how many people rise to the level they want to achieve in society but no more. Gregor's family were all perfectly happy to let him be the main wage earner whilst he was human, and relied upon him totally in almost every way, making little effort themselves to help, yet once he was unable to contribute they gradually found the energy and ways and means to bring sufficient wealth into the household to continue living their normal lives. Yes, it gets more interesting the more I think about it. I shall have to go and read up now to see if online reviews concur with my own very amateur review. Royal Rother 16th June 2006 02:33 PM Ok this review says it far better than I could. Maybe I should have read it before posting my own ramblings!! "Gregor's predicament is much like that of any person suffering from severe, particularly disfiguring, chronic illness or disability. Gregor's life story and personal identity change dramatically when he becomes a vermin. In the new identity his senses are different: the hospital across the street is now beyond Gregor's range of vision. His abilities change. Shifts in spatial arrangements circumscribe Gregor's movements. His voice is transformed. Some of Gregor's changes are generated from within; some are conditioned by the world's reaction to his metamorphosis. Other metamorphoses also occur in the story. Gregor's family see his predicament as an affront to them (after all, they expect Gregor to support the family). They withdraw from him, try to contain the damage, but in the process begin to change their own life stories as well--Gregor's father, who had been disabled, mobilizes and goes back to work; he changes from being an "old man" to a bank official "holding himself very erect." Gregor's sister also gets a job and seems on the verge of a new life. "The Metamorphosis" can also be seen as a reaction against bourgeois society and its demands. Gregor's manifest physical separation may represent his alienation and inarticulate yearnings. He had been a "vermin," crushed and circumscribed by authority and routine. He had been imprisoned by social and economic demands: "Just don't stay in bed being useless . . . . " In a psychoanalytic interpretation, The Metamorphosis prevents the imminent rebellion of the son against the father. Gregor had become strong as a result of his father's failure. He crippled his father's self-esteem and took over the father's position in the family. After the catastrophe, the same sequence takes place in reverse: son becomes weak, and father kills him." What he said! Momo 16th June 2006 09:01 PM This thread has brought back memories. I read Kafka at school (he's one of the compulsories in Germany). At the age of 16, I didn't really enjoy or understand him. But same as with you, RR, this story has staid with me even after thirty years and I think about it often. I think that's what great writing is all about. If you haven't read Kafka, try him. He's definitely worth it! Flingo 16th June 2006 10:32 PM Beetle-ish? I think I saw him as a slug. (Although that may be because of his cameo in Jasper Fforde's stuff!) Momo 17th June 2006 11:16 AM No, it was definitely an insect. Therefore, beetle-ish is a good description.