Franz Kafka’s famous story about Joseph K., a financier who gets in a spot of bother with the authorities, spends a fair bit of time trying to figure it all out, doesn’t get very far.

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Well, this was definitely one of the ‘Should’ read books. I’m glad I read it – partly, because some masochistic cluster of nerves tells me that it’s good for me. But it was also a bit of slog and I didn’t necessarily look forward to my reading lunches. It’s a bit like going for a run. It’s not exactly pleasant experience,  but there’s an exhilaration that comes when you progress. I should say that I didn’t hate it.

The subject is a bit bleak: the inhumanity of the Law. Joseph K. is arrested for some unknown reason – in the process of discovering what’s going on, he comes face to face with the true incomprehensibility of the Law. I’m sure there’s a bunch of complicated ways to look at The Trial. My own guess (and drawing from what little I’ve read/recollect) runs as follows: the book is a black-humoured condemnation of the fascism and totalitarianism latent within bureaucracy. The Law is All!

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There are some dreadfully slow parts, and it’s arguable that the protagonist seems to make all the wrong decisions (a view held by a few friends of mine). But Kafka casts him as an underdog at the same time – I ended up cheering for him, even when he did crazy things like telling his advocate to go suck a fuck. And the final sections of the novel is powerful. There’s a lesson to be had in how to pace your novel when you want to make a single point (political or otherwise) very strongly. There’s a really beautiful bit in a cathedral that will stay with me for a while as well.

I don’t want to revisit it any-time soon; that said, I feel like a better human for having  made it to the end.

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