Tag Archives: The Trial


We're right back where we started.  This is the same illustration that was used for chapter one.

We’re right back where we started. This is the same illustration that was used for chapter one.

Chapter 10: The chapter is titled “The End”.  It’s not only the end of the story; it’s the end of Joseph K.  A year has passed.  Two men come, escort Joseph out of town and kill him.

230 pages later– I have more questions than when I started.

My copy of the text includes unfinished chapters (which I did not read), passages deleted by the author (which I did read), excerpts from Kafka’s diaries ( I skipped), and three postscripts by Max Brod (I skimmed).

I learned from the postscripts Kafka wanted his work to be destroyed upon his death.  Max Brod told Kakfa that he wouldn’t.  Brod was convinced that Kafka understood he was serious about ignoring the man’s last request.  After Kafka’s death Brod went ahead with the publication of The Trial.  Brod was the person who put the chapters in order, and years later Max believed that Kafka intended for the fifth chapter to be the second chapter.  Kafka never wanted Joseph K’s trial to go to a highest court.  He only wanted to prolong the events.

Now.  How to answer the wrap-up questions.  Did you try?  Did you retitle the story?  Did you feel sympathy for any characters?  Did you discuss themes and motifs?

Why is this book a classic?  It’s not even finished!

I did some reading online.  I found this quote on Sparknotes.

“…it is Kafka’s description of the struggle to find meaning in a cosmos he knew to be meaningless that makes his work the gateway to modern literature.”


Posted by on August 16, 2013 in The Trial


Tags: , , ,

The Trial is trying.

The Trial chpt 7Chapter 7: All of Joseph K.’s legal records are not accessible to him or the public, and all proceedings are kept secret.  One of the paragraphs in this chapter took twelve pages.  Twelve!  J.K. toys with the idea of firing his attorney.  A manufacturer sends J.K. to the painter.  Young, scary, bratty, promiscuous girls spy on his conversation.  Painter presents three possibilities: delay, ostensible acquittal, and definite acquittal.  Unfortunately a definite acquittal is not an option for J.K, who ends up buying three of the painters terrible heathscapes.

My copy of the text repeats Kafka's drawings for the last chapters.

My copy of the text repeats Kafka’s drawings for the last chapters.

Chapter 8: Why is the lawyer’s home always so dark?   I’m confused whether J.K. dismisses his lawyer or not.  Block begs.  Huld manipulates.  Leni lies.

The chapter is incomplete.  Can this be?  What was Max Brod thinking?

We're right back where we started.  This is the same illustration that was used for chapter one.

We’re right back where we started. This is the same illustration that was used for chapter one.

Chapter 9: The bank tasks J.K. with taking an Italian on a cathedral tour.  The tourist is a no-show.  The priest knows J.K.’s case and tells a parable.

I am bemused by the bizarre, bewildering, book.  How will it end?


Leave a comment

Posted by on August 15, 2013 in The Trial


Tags: , ,

More confusion

The Trial chpt 4

Chapter 4: What is up with J.K.’s infatuation with Fräulein Bürstner?

The Trial chpt 5

Chapter 5: Is Joseph crazy?  Is this a dream?  There are men in the lumber room of K’s bank: the whipper and the two wardens.  Why?  The wardens are in trouble for their behavior at Joseph’s arrest and the whipper is there to do what whippers do best.

The Trial chpt 6

Chapter 6: Joseph has relatives.  His uncle shows up to give him advice and then drags him to his ill lawyer friend.  There are more snapping teeth.  This time they belong to nurse Leni; she bites Joseph K. to get his attention.  Her tactic works and the two spend time together which further ruins Joseph’s hopes for a positive case.

I am bewildered by this book.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 14, 2013 in The Trial


Tags: , , ,

It’s not a dream

I suppose there are people who are arrested on their thirtieth birthday, but I imagine that most of them know with what crime they are being charged.

Chapter 1: No one seems to understand Joseph K’s legal troubles; not his landlady, not his wardens, not Joseph himself.  Maybe the Captain sleeping in the next room does, but if so, Kafka’s not telling.

Chapter 2: What would it be like to report to a court room without directions or an appointment time?

When Joseph makes it past the washerwoman, he explains the unusualness of his case.  The crowd seems moved but they are all wearing badges.  What does that mean?  The magistrate says J.K.’s behavior has taken away his own advantages.  How can this be?

The Trial chpt 3

Chapter 3: At his next trip to be interrogated, the room is empty.  The law books are full of obscene pictures.  The married washerwoman is carried away by a student with snapping teeth.

The usher leads Joseph to where other accused men sit waiting.  Waiting for what?  Joseph becomes faint but when taken to fresh air the clerks begin to feel ill.

Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe this book.

1 Comment

Posted by on August 13, 2013 in The Trial


Tags: , , ,

Returning to The Trial

I shared on Facebook that I finished The Trial on July 27th.  Whew!  Finally.
But I’m still pondering what it all means.
When someone says, “How Kafkaesque!” in conversation, do I know exactly what she means?

This week I’m rereading my journal and scanning over my copy of the book (which I got out of the freebie box at the library’s annual book sale.  What does that say about Kafka?).

Back to my copy of the classic…  It’s this one.The Trial

The Trial: The Definitive Edition
Introduction by George Steiner
Translated from the German by Will and Edwin Muir
Revised, and with additional material translated by E.M. Butler.
Drawings by Franz Kafka
Schocken Books, New York 1992

Did you catch that?  Drawings by Franz Kafka.
Let me show you.Trial chpt 1

I failed in my attempt to find additional information about the drawings.  The Trial chpt 2

But I am inclined to make this sketch my new gravatar photo.  It perfectly depicts how I felt while reading The Trial.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 9, 2013 in The Trial


Tags: ,

The Verdict

Trial Check-In

The three of us at “A Classic Case of Madness” are finished with Kafka’s The Trial.  I was the caboose, closing the book just yesterday.

Where are you in the story?  Please share you place in the comments.

If you have successfully completed the novel, you may…

1. Read something less bewildering for fun.
2. Brag that you read Kafka over your summer break.
3. Be thankful for the U.S. judicial system.
4. Watch this cinematic version of the story.  Anthony Hopkins plays the priest.
5. Remember to do your WEM wrap-up questions.
6. Search for a copy of our next title: book twenty-two–Richard Wright’s Native Son.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 29, 2013 in The Trial


Tags: ,

Still on Trial

Trial Check-In

Ack!  I can’t believe I missed a hebdomadal review.  To quote our friend Ruth at Experiment with the Well-Educated Mind, “Life is so distracting.”

I’m still pluggin’ along.  What is with the abysmally long paragraphs in The Trial?  My mom is visiting.  Last night while I was reading, she peeked over my shoulder and asked, “Is the whole book one long paragraph?”  Sometimes it feels that way.

Tell me I’m not the only person left reading!  I’m being tried by The Trial.

Please share you place in the comments.


Posted by on July 24, 2013 in The Trial


Tags: ,

Missing Jane

I don’t want to read The Trial today.  I feel crabby about Kafka.  Want to whine with me?

I woke up this morning missing Jane Eyre.  What happened to books like Brontë wrote?  Jane Eyre had some creepy, dream-like parts (as does The Trial), but I’m tired of

  • people without real names–Joseph K.  What does the K stand for?
  • weird relationships–I’ve never met you Fräulein Bürstner, but I’m Joseph K., and I’m going to stalk you and then passionately kiss you the first time we meet.
  • the author’s attempt to shock– What is up with the law books being pornographic drawings?  Or what’s with the bizarre beating of the wardens in the law office lumber closet?
  • lack of emotional connection to characters–How can I root for Joseph?  I don’t know anything about him.
  • experimental writing–I’m a primogeniture; I like rules.

Perhaps my rebellious feelings come from reading one experimental book after another: Mrs. Dalloway followed by The Trial.   I’m tired of feeling lost.  I want to care about characters.  I want to be able to follow plot.  For that matter, I want to enjoy reading.

What happened to happily ever after?  I miss Jane Eyre.jane eyre


Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Jane Eyre, The Trial


Tags: ,

The Trial check-in

Trial Check-In

According to

Kafkaesque– 1.of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or resembling the literary work of Franz Kafka.
2. marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity

Feeling a little disoriented?  Confused?  Bewildered?  Congratulations!  You must be making good progress in Kafka’s The Trial.  Please share your place in the comments.


Posted by on July 15, 2013 in The Trial


Tags: , ,

The Trial

The Trial

Order in the court!  Order in the court!

The judge has found the defendants  guilty of finishing another WEM novel and sentences them to the task of reading a  German classic.  By order of the court, the readers will secure a copy of the recommended translation and start serving their sentence immediately.


Posted by on July 8, 2013 in The Trial


Tags: , ,