The Trial


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Franz Kafka left his readers hanging in his novel called The Trial-literally. It is an unfinished book, with fragments that were deleted and a story that was kind of mishmashed together. It was written in 1914 but published after Kafka’s death in 1925. In my copy of the novel there is an appendix, with the unfinished ending to chapters, deleted fragments of sentences, and a postscript from a friend of the author named Max Brod, who put all of the parts of the novel together. It follows the story of Joseph K., and a very strange year of his life. On his birthday, he is arrested for no apparent reason. The reader comes to find out that the court system in this novel is one of confusion-guilt is assumed and the decision is up to the judges. The book is a little hard to follow since it skips a lot of time and it is sort of pieced together. Throughout the novel, K. meets a lot of the people who become involved in his trial, like Leni whom he becomes romantically involved with. He also meets a painter named Titorelli who wants to help him prove that he is innocent. In the end, Joseph K. is executed, the nature of his crime never fully announced to the reader.

Overall, this book wasn’t my favorite but I did like the challenge of going back and forth from the story to the appendix and seeing what the author deleted or added. This, to me, made the story more personal because it was like seeing Kafka’s drafts of the story and seeing how he progressed through the novel. However, this was also tough because it took away from the story and I would have to remember what he was talking about before I went on and continued the story (see my post about reading comprehension and you’ll understand how this was difficult for me). This book almost felt like a dystopian novel, in a future where this type of court system could be possible.


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