“It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.”
Read: 9th, May, 2017- 13th, May, 2017
Estimate reading time: 6 minutes, 2 seconds. Contains 1207 words.
My Rating: 4 Stars
The Trial by Franz Kafka, which he wrote in early 20th century, Prague is an unnecessary complicated and frustrating experience that deals with mundane and absurd aspects of modern bureaucracy that Kafka drew from his experience as an insurance clerk. This book totally explains the term Kafkaesque. Not only the absurdity of bureaucracy is explained in this book but it also deals with how this character Josef K react to the situations he presented with and his logical reasoning that give rise to those reactions.
It is a small book but certainly, this book can’t be rushed. On 9th when I decide to read this book, I said to myself, just 255 pages I can finish this book tonight but no I was wrong it took me 5 days to finish it. Not because I’m lazy but because I can only take enough of it. When I was reading it, I could only imagine dark spaces and alleys and no colors. Kafka created a depressive setting throughout the book but not to forget some really good dark and dry humor rooted from totally nonsensical situations.
Like for an instance, in the first chapter when K. looks for his identification documents and can find only his bicycle permit.
“Once in his room, he quickly pulled open his writing desk, everything in it was very tidy but in his agitation, he was unable to find the identification documents he was looking for straight away. He finally found his bicycle permit and was about to go back to the policemen with it when it seemed to him too petty, so he carried on searching until he found his birth certificate.”
All this when no one was telling him why he was under arrested and what crime did he actually do(gave me a good chuckle).
The Trial is a story of a respectable bank clerk, Josef K., who is suddenly arrested for a crime and nobody would tell him what crime he committed but only that he is arrested for a crime. A story where he must defend himself against a charge he no nothing about.
“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”
The Trial is often associated with terms like Existentialism and Absurdity, where nothing seems to be changing or happening but something deep is going on anyway and the character conforms with the hopelessness of his efforts.
Kafka in this talk about various topics bureaucracy, totalitarian society and imposed guilt.
In The Trial, Kafka exposes how bureaucracy whose only concern is to maintain its own rules and regulations regardless of justice for the people of the society.
“The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”- Oscar Wilde
The abuse of power where authority is in the hands of only a few individuals who are not accountable to the public in any way.
Similar to the totalitarian regime of Hitler and Stalin where a person is harassed, persecuted and killed like a dog.
“Like a dog!” he said, it was as if the shame of it should outlive him.”
Excessive bureaucracy is an annihilating force that dehumanizes people.
“When one has lived for thirty years in this world and had to fight one’s way through it, as I have had to do, one becomes hardened to surprises and doesn’t take them too seriously.”
We can also find the story revolving around imposed guilt because they never tell him what his crime is and what he is guilty of so he can never protest and when he does protest, his protests are used as evidence of his guilt.
“But I’m not guilty,” said K. “there’s been a mistake. How is it even possible for someone to be guilty? We’re all human beings here, one like the other.” “That is true,” said the priest “but that is how the guilty speak”
When I read this book it is sure that K doesn’t know what he is arrested for. In his mind, he knows that he didn’t do anything wrong but when he walked in for the trial in his mind he knows that people around him see him in the light of hatred because they do think he committed a crime.
He was falsely accused which was bad but what was even worse is that the people who were close and important to him also thought that he did something wrong.
And everything leads to imposed guilt.
See this according to your own experiences, how did you feel when as a child you were accused by your parents or teacher for something wrong or when a friend accused you of something you never did?
How must a person just prove that he didn’t do anything wrong when nobody is ready to listen to that person, they only believe that what they think is true?
I think one might feel trapped and helpless because whatever you say is used against you, nobody is ready to listen to you, even explaining your viewpoint becomes difficult.
How must a person resolve this issue?
When I read this book many things just can’t be taken realistically because of their dream-like quality, his thoughts and actions hover between dream and reality.
Like considering some instances:
The presence of court in the apartment building, police officers who arrested him getting whipped in the locker room present in his workplace, Priest calling his name when they both never met each other before, K’s execution in the park and not in the prison. All of these situations seem absurd to be happening in reality.
K. in this book is an anti-hero, he suffers and dies without meaning which is an essential part of existential literature. I found him rash in taking decisions and sometimes obnoxious and ya how can I forget a womanizer. But possibly the only character in the book that seemed to me more sensible than any other character.
When reading Kafka’s books one must know that he didn’t really write these books for entertainment though they may entertain you. The bizarre and surreal situations he created are written to inform you. He does write about deep stuff but most of the time he is very direct people just seem to look too deep into it.
There are so many minute details in the book that one might just get lost in them and start looking for deeper meaning in them but most of them are used as symbolism by Kafka but are not really the bigger picture. The Bigger picture is more direct but seriously if he wouldn’t have used symbolism then there won’t be much to the story. Symbolism connects the things that are happening and helps the story to kick in the gut and to create the environment that helps in telling the story but they are not the story though without them the story would have been blander and less compelling.
It is a weird little book but in a good way. I loved reading it though at times I felt suffocated but a good read anyway.
So if you are thinking of reading Kafka then you must read this book. There are many things that are unanswered actually everything is unanswered and we don’t have Kafka and he did a good job in not imposing his point of view so feel free to find your answers as you like it.