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The Trial

The Trial

Written by Franz Kafka

Narrated by Todd McLaren


The Trial

Written by Franz Kafka

Narrated by Todd McLaren

ratings:
4/5 (97 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 30, 2011
ISBN:
9781452673486
Format:
Audiobook

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Description

First published in 1925, The Trial tells the story of a man arrested for an unknown crime by a remote, inaccessible authority and his struggle for control over the increasing absurdity of his life. One of Franz Kafka's best-known works, The Trial has been variously interpreted as an examination of political power, a satirical depiction of bureaucracy, and a pessimistic religious parable. Left unfinished at the time of Kafka's 1924 death, The Trial is nevertheless a trenchant depiction of the seemingly incomprehensible nature of existence and a fascinating exploration of the universal issues of justice, power, freedom, and isolation.
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 30, 2011
ISBN:
9781452673486
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Franz Kafka was a German Bohemian novelist and short story writer, and was widely regarded as one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century.


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What people think about The Trial

3.8
97 ratings / 98 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    My second Kafka, and I am now pretty sure he is indeed not my cup of tea. I think the ideas in his works are interesting, the surrealism/absurdity is something I enjoy at other times and it does work, but somehow I just find it quite tedious to read in Kafka. The story-lines intrigue me, but getting through them takes effort. I think he's worth reading, but at the same time I hesitate to recommend him.
  • (2/5)
    Well, I read it. A very strange story. I found it hard to care about K and his problems.
  • (3/5)
    First thing.. this book was unfinished and published after his death, and it reads that way. I can't imagine this is what Kafka would have wanted the world to read. But here we are. The only thing I would like to add to what has been written already is that our protagonist K's behavior is rarely mentioned. He's an idiot. The system he is in is oppressive and capricious but his own behavior is inexplicable and frustrating. I can appreciate this book for its historical context in literature but it's not a "good read".
  • (4/5)
    The Trial is a compelling read, but also frustrating. Questions are never answered and your left scream WHY???? K wakes up to find out he is being arrested, he is never told why, he is free to go about his daily life as long as when he is summoned to the court he comes. He tries to dismiss the trial as nothing more than a shady court system trying to get a bribe out of him. More people learn of his trial and he begins to take it more serious. K explores options and meets other people on trial. The ending will mess you up.

    So what is the point of The Trial? There are lots of meanings that can be placed to what is read. Bureaucracy, a variety of metaphors the trial represents, or simply nothing but the text that is provided. Either way its a great short read that is interesting til the end. I didn’t know how I felt at the ending, was just kind of lost for a feeling, but I think that feeling of not know what I am feeling fits well with The Trial.
  • (5/5)
    Read this in one day - which is probably a major insult to Kafka. Is it about the dilemma between domestic life and dedication to writing - what is it about? There are so many possibilities in any world - and in our world of CCTV and algorithms. This was a re-read and I am pretty sure this is another of those books that I thought I had read in full but hadn't.
  • (4/5)
    Indrukwekkende klassieker, blijft nog altijd zeer bevreemdend. Belangrijk thema is zeker de onmacht van het individu tegenover de anonieme maatschappelijke macht, maar nog belangrijker is dat van de menselijke relaties: wie ben ik en hoe wordt ik bekeken in de ogen van de anderen?
  • (1/5)
    The worst book I have ever read. Kafka was either drunk, crazy or under some drugs when he wrote that book.
  • (4/5)
    Indrukwekkende klassieker, blijft nog altijd zeer bevreemdend. Belangrijk thema is zeker de onmacht van het individu tegenover de anonieme maatschappelijke macht, maar nog belangrijker is dat van de menselijke relaties: wie ben ik en hoe wordt ik bekeken in de ogen van de anderen?
  • (2/5)
    There are some interesting themes and a few isolated gems of dark humour but this was so boring to read. So boring your brain may not allow you to do anything other than skim the text and look anxiously at page numbers. Perhaps this was the whole point. Half way through there is an interminable paragraph about advocates. Camus' The Outsider is a way better read if you want something existential. Much funnier too.
  • (4/5)
    A very memorable reading experience.
  • (3/5)
    The Trial by Franz Kafka is one of the masterpieces of existential literature. Or so it is said. Since I'm not up to date on my existential philosophy, the book was largely wasted on me. It's always a challenge to read books that come at life from a different world view than one's own, but to give them a fair chance requires wrestling with their philosophical underpinnings. I'm not at a point in my reading life or my intellectual life where I'm interested in exploring the existential experiences described by Franz Kafka in The Trial.Kafka certainly knows how to create atmosphere and bring a story to life, but the problems for me were the absurdist plot and the unappealing main character, Josef K. While I admire Kafka's craft as a writer, and acknowledge The Trial as an important work of literature, it's simply not to my taste at this stage of my life.
  • (3/5)
    Densely dark, and difficult to read because of extraordinarily long paragraphs, but it gets you in, and makes you read to the end. Morbidly funereal plot, and should not be read by anyone who thinks "they are out to get me".
  • (2/5)
    Look, it's a classic. It's not the most scintillating read, and I think I would have enjoyed it more had I read it when I was a 20 year old English major. But it's fine, and it paved the way for a whole host of really great slightly surreal, absurd stories that deliver a bleak message in a readable package.
  • (2/5)
    While I can't say I enjoyed it, I certainly got more out of it this time than I did 30 years ago in high school.
  • (4/5)
    Where does Franz Kafka get his ideas? Everyone knows Metamorphosis and The Trial is no different. It has been made into theater productions, television shows and movies. Everything Kafka has ever written has been analyzed within an inch of its life so I will not be able to add anything new with my review of The Trial. In one sentence, The Trial is about a man on trial for an unknown crime. The end. Why Josef K was indicted is a mystery; why he was convicted is even more so. What is so haunting about The Trial is the tone of voice. The frightening subject matter is told in such a robotic, matter of fact manner. The outrage just isn't there.
  • (4/5)
    By the most shallow interpretation this is a pessimist's simple metaphor for life: we are born/arrested without consent, then subjected to unfairness beyond our control unto death. The introduction would have me look more deeply for Judaic-Talmudic references (wouldn't know one if it slapped me), messages about sexuality (I do tend to see those), or a prophetic rendering of the fate of Jewish citizens in Eastern Europe during World War II. It would also not be difficult to read several of the characters as self-doubt personified, reflecting the way each of us is prone to criticize or overthink our own actions in an adverse environment.The plot wasn't so dull as I feared it might be, since Joseph K. has freedom of movement and makes the most of it. He tries every emotional response to his straits but to no avail. Whether he rails against the irrationality of his captors or attempts to reason with them, it's all for naught. He comes on too strongly with women and is too self-centered, sometimes aggressive with those he judges inferior, but there's never any clue dropped to suggest what he's charged with. He never aggressively seeks his right to know, but that's of a piece with the metaphor: once it is determined that life is unfair, there's little point in asking why.
  • (4/5)
    Arrested for no reason and put on trial, this famous unfinished novel is an exercise in frustration. I didn't love the book, but I appreciate what Kafka did. The absurdity of bureaucracy was perfectly highlighted.
  • (4/5)
    A whole host of interpretations of this book are out there, which is not surprising given it was unfinished by the author and the chapters are likely out of order. An interesting read, one of those stories where what you get out of it depends in part on your life experiences, your world view and beliefs.
  • (4/5)
    This was the first Kafka I have ever read. Like most of his works, he never completed this, and it was published only after his early death from tuberculosis in 1924. Although the term "Kafkaesque" is often used simply to describe an impenetrable bureaucracy or maze, this novel has a nightmarish quality about it, with the inexplicable events happening to Josef K after his arrest for a crime that is unknown to both Josef and the reader. He confronts a colourful and strange array of bizarre characters while trying to navigate his way through this moral and judicial maze. The ending of the novel as published is abrupt and violent. There have been many interpretations of this over the years, but overall it is perhaps best to see simply as a piece of (mostly) atmospheric absurdist literature, with humorous undertones, and not try to over-analyse it. The very structure of the text makes it quite hard to read, being divided mostly into very long paragraphs, with dialogue embedded within them, not on separate lines, a characteristic that often puts me off reading a novel, though in this case, it seems appropriate.
  • (2/5)
    The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925)

    I'm having a difficult time with this book. Aside from it being written back in 1925 in German, the author never finished it at that time. Essentially, it is about a man who wakes up to find he is arrested for a crime that is never specified. It almost feels like a dog chasing its tail...I wonder how this trial will proceed with the rantings from this narcissistic protagonist. It is rather amusing how he defends himself against a crime to which he has no knowledge of committing!

    Having done some research it seems that this book was finished by someone else hence the lack of continuity or direction in this book.
  • (2/5)
    I listened to the audio book narrated by someone Degas. I found the whole book extremely annoying. I probably missed lots of deep and meaningful stuff, but I found K annoying and selfish and I didn't like the way nearly all the women were falling over themselves to help him. I found there was a lot of "K thought x. It was of course true that blah, blah, blah. However, K still thought x."

    I might have appreciated the book more if I had read it rather than listening to the audio book. However, the library only had the audio book.
  • (4/5)
    The following excerpts sum up the book perfectly: K.: How can I go in to the bank when I'm under arrest?Supervisor: It's true that you're under arrest, but that shouldn't stop you from carrying out your job. And there shouldn't be anything to stop you from carrying on with your usual life. In that case, it's not too bad, being under arrest, said K. I never meant it should be anything else, said the supervisor. It hardly seems to have been necessary to notify me of the arrest, said K. K.: "Your question, my Lord, as to whether I am a house painter - in fact even more than that, you did not ask at all but merely imposed on me - is symptomatic of the whole way these proceedings against me are being carried out.
  • (5/5)
    Although confusing and rather abstract, requiring deeper concentration than most books, The Trial is a rough draft masterpiece. One only has to wonder what might have come of it had Kafka actually finished the work to his satisfaction.
  • (5/5)
    Re-reading The Trial in the Breon Mitchell translation of the restored edition was a big improvement over the original Muirs' translation. Although I still prefer Kafka's shorter, published work like The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony and The Hunger Artist, all of which seem perfect to me while The Trial has a lot of rougher edges. One can only wonder what Kafka would have done with them if he actually published the work.

    This reading of The Trial also had considerably more farce and humor, especially in all of the descriptions of minutiae, and felt more like a successor to Gogol than I had previously remembered. And it is also a reminder that just about everything that anyone terms Kafkaesque is capturing at most one or two facets of the very multidimensional, strange original combination that Kafka himself provided.
  • (4/5)
    Absurd, nightmarish, depressing and brilliant. The idea of someone being "arrested," "tried," and executed without ever being told what they did is unfortunately not as absurd as it used to be. Think this could only happen in Eastern European countries, Russia, Islamofacist strongholds? Think again.
  • (5/5)
    I was introduced to Franz Kafka the writer by my Younger Uncle who himself had read in his college days many of the writer's works but gave Kafka up to concentrate on law & finance. I read him because I was fascinated by his personality & the fact that he possessed a schizoid personality disorder whose writings I wished to study carefully. Before I could read Kafka's works however, I made sure that I did a bit of research on the man & that took me a while which is uncommon in me. But Kafka is a great writer to reckon with, & `The Trial' is a book which left me quite perplexed.

    Franz Kafka was a Jew born in Prague, & who spoke in German. Most of his works were published posthumously by his friend Max Brod who I indirectly admire for doing so & gifting Franz Kafka to the world of literature & philosophy. Kafka wrote mostly short stories but he wrote a few novels like `The Trial' but most of them were left incomplete due to his untimely death. `The Trial' is also incomplete but mind you that adds to the beauty of the work in a peculiar way.

    The story is about the unseen or invisible court & justice system of the Austro-Hungarian period. It was a novel useful to me not only where literature was concerned but also, to enhance my understanding of the situation of Austria & its neighbours before the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany. It is also stated that Kafka through his writings almost prophesized the merciless extermination act against the Jews (he succumbed to Tuberculosis before Hitler came on the scene). `The Trial' is the story of an innocent man by the name of Josef.K. who has been charged of a crime by the invisible court which he has definitely not committed. The novel goes on to show how K tries to fight for justice & instead is killed ultimately in the end without being proven innocent.

    The beauty of it all is that, the charge against K is not mentioned at all during the whole narrative & yet, the indignation that K feels when his lawyer does not aid him or when he is unjustly sort of arrested one fine morning on his thirtieth birthday is felt by the reader as well. This was an early warning given by this master of modern 20th century literature to the whole world about the evil of the invisible court. This novel prophesizes the death of many Jews in concentration camps for a crime they have not committed as well as the killings of innocent Russians during Stalin's era. The novel prophesizes the death of liberty at the very hands that shaped it, the hands of justice.

    Kafka shows through the example of the businessman Block, whose case had been going on for five years, how he was now a mere shadow of his former self & now was only concerned about his case which according to Titorelli, the Painter would never end in absolute justice & freedom. Block to this extent even stays like a slave in the house of his lawyer who calls for him at odd hours & who treats him like a worm. K did not want the service of such a lawyer & to be grovelling like Block....& therefore meets his end in an abandoned quarry.

    The character in the novel I admire the most is the painter Titorelli who is a court painter & who lives in a dilapidated shamble of a studio. He amuses me thoroughly when he explains to K about the different ways he could help him & also the way he suffocates K in his room by not opening the window or doors of his ill ventilated studio. The novel infact is suffocating thanks to the vivid descriptions & master storytelling. The heat felt in the artist's studio is not only felt by K but also by us the readers as well as those readers who are aware of the faulty system of justice even in our own present `democratic' times.

    `The Trial' gave me a glimpse of the futility of justice in the modern world where everything is like a riddle with many interpretations, just like the riddle told by the prison priest to K in the novel, about the door keeper. The novel shows how justice can be manipulated & how a case can go on for years & years while the lawyers & judges make merry. According to Titorelli, perfect justice is a legend while Block states that a great lawyer is never found (as in honest). All this rings a bell, in the sense....it is happening even today, in India itself.

    The Austrian Hungary bureaucratic system is also ridiculed & dry humour which is my favourite is also at times evident in the novel especially in the first part when the innocent K is arrested & his breakfast is eaten up by the wardens who come to arrest him. Leni is another character in the novel who interests me. She is the nurse of K's lawyer is madly in love with K.....because she finds all condemned men very attractive. Infact, K's senile lawyer even gives K a detailed description about how people who are involved in a case seem to the judges to also look very attractive which disgusts K.

    Franz Kafka really brings out truth in this work which ignites one to think about the past, present & future of one's government & especially ones justice system. He aids us to take a long & careful look at our bureaucracy & how will the future define its justice system. Will justice be equal & available to all, or will all citizens who approach justice be suffocated the way K was suffocated when he entered the attic filled with court offices ? Only time will tell whether K's story will also be repeated in the 21st century......or will something worse take place which we all will have to endure.
    An appreciation By Fiza Pathan
  • (4/5)
    This book just left me deflated. It wasn't until the end that I really pitied K, and thought of how frightening this whole ordeal would be were I in his position.
  • (5/5)
    Very profound and well-thought surrealist story depicting a very realist idea: What happens if the justice system which is expected to be just, itself, becomes corrupt and unjust? Is justice there to serve us or are we its slaves, the slave of the justice system, thereby the slaves of the men holding power over this system? What role should play the painter (intellectuals), the clergy (the religion), the defence attorney (the right to self-defence)? In my opinion, this book will show the reader the bleak and inescapable situation of people who are set up by powerful men and even by the government for thinking outside the norms and disturbing their plans, like it is the case in my country Turkey and why the intellectuals should raise their voice.
  • (2/5)
    Listening to unabridged audio.
    23 Feb 11: Praise be. I'm done listening to this. It was torture. I get (I think) what Kafka was trying to say that the law is so complex at times that it is completely inaccessible to 'normal' people, even smart successful ones. Or maybe he wasn't trying to say anything at all.

    Like I said before, I disliked the characters - all of them - and I found the on-going conspiracy - reaching the edges of everything - irritating.

    Has anyone else read this one? Maybe they want to explain it to me?
    18 Feb 11: Ch. 7? 8? : I totally hate all the characters. This may be part of the reason I'm feeling lethargic about law school -- it reads a bit like 'Alice in Wonderland'... in court.

  • (1/5)
    I couldn't understand Kafka 30 years ago & he makes no more sense nowRead in Samoa May 2003