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The Trial


  The Trial

  By Franz Kafka

  The Table Of Contents

  The Overview of Franz Kafka. 4

  Biography. 4

  Education. 4

  Employment 5

  Later years. 5

  Judaism and Zionism.. 6

  Literary career 7

  Writing style. 7

  Critical interpretations. 7

  Publications. 8

  Translations. 9

  Published works. 9

  Short stories. 9

  Novellas. 10

  Novels. 10

  Diaries and notebooks. 10

  Letters. 10

  Commemoration. 11

  Literary and cultural references. 11

  Literature. 11

  Short stories. 11

  Film.. 12

  Metamorphosis. 12

  Theatre. 12

  References. 13

  Bibliography. 14

  The Overview of The Trial 15

  Plot summary. 15

  Characters. 17

  Others. 17

  Interpretations. 18

  Bureaucracy. 18

  Humanity. 18

  Marriage and social relations. 18

  Human existence. 19

  Style. 19

  Parable. 19

  Relations between The Trial and Crime and Punishment 20

  Film portrayals. 21

  Chapter One. 22

  Chapter Two. 36

  Chapter Three. 45

  Chapter Four 57

  Chapter Five. 61

  Chapter Six. 64

  Chapter Seven. 74

  Chapter Eight 100

  Chapter Nine. 115

  Chapter Ten. 127

  The Overview of Franz Kafka

  Franz Kafka (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. He was born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Austria-Hungary, presently the Czech Republic. His unique body of writing—much of which is incomplete and which was mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western literature.[1]

  His stories, such as The Metamorphosis (1915), and novels, including The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926), concern troubled individuals in a nightmarishly impersonal and bureaucratic world.

  Biography

  Kafka was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Prague, the capital of Bohemia. His father, Hermann Kafka (1852–1931), was described as a “huge, selfish, overbearing businessman”[2] and by Kafka himself as “a true Kafka in strength, health, appetite, loudness of voice, eloquence, self-satisfaction, worldly dominance, endurance, presence of mind, [and] knowledge of human nature”.[3] Hermann was the fourth child of Jacob Kafka, a ritual slaughterer, and came to Prague from Osek, a Czech-speaking Jewish village near Písek in southern Bohemia. After working as a traveling sales representative, he established himself as an independent retailer of men’s and women’s fancy goods and accessories, employing up to 15 people and using a jackdaw (kavka in Czech) as his business logo. Kafka’s mother, Julie (1856—1934), was the daughter of Jakob Löwy, a prosperous brewer in Podbrady, and was better educated than her husband.[4]

  Franz was the eldest of six children.[5] He had two younger brothers, Georg and Heinrich, who died at the ages of fifteen months and six months, respectively, before Franz was seven, and three younger sisters, Gabriele (“Elli”) (1889–1941), Valerie (“Valli”) (1890–1942), and Ottilie (“Ottla”) (1891–1943). On business days, both parents were absent from the home. His mother helped to manage her husband’s business and worked in it as much as 12 hours a day. The children were largely reared by a series of governesses and servants. Franz’s relationship with his father was severely troubled as explained in the Letter to His Father in which he complained of being profoundly emotionally abused since childhood.

  Franz’s sisters were sent with their families to the Aódz Ghetto and died there or in concentration camps. Ottla was sent to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt and then on 7 October 1943 to the death camp at Auschwitz, where 1267 children and 51 guardians, including Ottla, were gassed to death on their arrival.[6]

  Education

  Kafka learned German as his first language, but he was also fluent in Czech. Later, Kafka acquired some knowledge of French language and culture; one of his favorite authors was Flaubert. From 1889 to 1893, he attended the Deutsche Knabenschule, the boys’ elementary school at the Masný trh/Fleischmarkt (meat market), the street now known as Masná street. His Jewish education was limited to his Bar Mitzvah celebration at 13 and going to the synagogue four times a year with his father, which he loathed.[7][8] After elementary school, he was admitted to the rigorous classics-oriented state gymnasium, Altstädter Deutsches Gymnasium, an academic secondary school with eight grade levels, where German was also the language of instruction, at Old Town Square, within the Kinsky Palace. He completed his Maturita exams in 1901.

  Admitted to the Charles-Ferdinand University of Prague, Kafka first studied chemistry, but switched after two weeks to law. This offered a range of career possibilities, which pleased his father, and required a longer course of study that gave Kafka time to take classes in German studies and art history. At the university, he joined a student club, named Lese- und Redehalle der Deutschen Studenten, which organized literary events, readings and other activities. In the end of his first year of studies, he met Max Brod, who would become a close friend of his throughout his life, together with the journalist Felix Weltsch, who also studied law. Kafka obtained the degree of Doctor of Law on 18 June 1906 and performed an obligatory year of unpaid service as law clerk for the civil and criminal courts.[1]

  Employment

  On 1 November 1907, he was hired at the Assicurazioni Generali, a large Italian insurance company, where he worked for nearly a year. His correspondence, during that period, witnesses that he was unhappy with his working time schedule—from 8 p.m. (20:00) until 6 a.m. (06:00)—as it made it extremely difficult for him to concentrate on his writing. On 15 July 1908, he resigned, and two weeks later found more congenial employment with the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia. His father often referred to his son’s job as insurance officer as a “Brotberuf”, literally “bread job”, a job done only to pay the bills. While Kafka often claimed that he despised the job, he was a diligent and capable employee. He was also given the task of compiling and composing the annual report and was reportedly quite proud of the results, sending copies to friends and family. In parallel, Kafka was also committed to his literary work. Together with his close friends Max Brod and Felix Weltsch, these three were called “Der enge Prager Kreis”, the close Prague circle, which was part of a broader Prague Circle, “a loosely knit group of German-Jewish writers who contributed to the culturally fertile soil of Prague from the 1880s till after World War I.”[9]

  In 1911, Karl Hermann, spouse of his sister Elli, proposed Kafka collaborate in the operation of an asbestos factory known as Prager Asbestwerke Hermann and Co. Kafka showed a positive attitude at first, dedicating much of his free time to the business. During that period, he also found interest and entertainment in the performances of Yiddish theatre, despite the misgivings of even close friends such as Max Brod, who usually supported him in everything else. Those performances also served as a starting point for his growing relationship with Judaism.[10]

  Later years

  In 1912, at Max Brod’s home, Kafka met Felice Bauer, who lived in Berlin and worked as a representative for a dictaphone company. Over the next five years they corresponded a great deal, met occasionally, and twice were engaged to be married. Their relationship finally ended in 1917.

  In 1917, Kafka began to suffer from tuberculosis, which would r
equire frequent convalescence during which he was supported by his family, most notably his sister Ottla. Despite his fear of being perceived as both physically and mentally repulsive, he impressed others with his boyish, neat, and austere good looks, a quiet and cool demeanor, obvious intelligence and dry sense of humor.[11]

  In 1921 he developed an intense relationship with Czech journalist and writer Milena Jesenská. In July 1923, throughout a vacation to Graal-Müritz on the Baltic Sea, he met Dora Diamant and briefly moved to Berlin in the hope of distancing himself from his family’s influence to concentrate on his writing. In Berlin, he lived with Diamant, a 25-year-old kindergarten teacher from an orthodox Jewish family, who was independent enough to have escaped her past in the ghetto. She became his lover, and influenced Kafka’s interest in the Talmud.[12]

  It is generally agreed that Kafka suffered from clinical depression and social anxiety throughout his entire life. He also suffered from migraines, insomnia, constipation, boils, and other ailments, all usually brought on by excessive stresses and strains. He attempted to counteract all of this by a regimen of naturopathic treatments. However, Kafka’s tuberculosis worsened; he returned to Prague, then went to Dr. Hoffmann’s sanatorium in Kierling near Vienna for treatment, where he died on 3 June 1924, apparently from starvation. The condition of Kafka’s throat made eating too painful for him, and since parenteral nutrition had not yet been developed, there was no way to feed him. His body was ultimately brought back to Prague where he was interred on 11 June 1924, in the New Jewish Cemetery (sector 21, row 14, plot 33) in Prague-Žižkov.

  Judaism and Zionism

  Kafka was not formally involved in Jewish religious life, but he showed a great interest in Jewish culture and spirituality. He was well-versed in Yiddish literature, and loved the Yiddish theater.[13] He was deeply fascinated by the Jews of Eastern Europe whom he regarded as having an intensity of spiritual life Western Jews did not have. His diary is full of references to Yiddish writers, known and unknown. [14] Yet he was at times alienated from Judaism and Jewish life: “What have I in common with Jews? I have hardly anything in common with myself and should stand very quietly in a corner, content that I can breathe.”

  On the other hand, Kafka dreamed of moving to Palestine with Felice Bauer, and later Dora Diamant, to live in the Land of Israel. [15] He studied Hebrew in Berlin, and hired Pua Bat-Tovim, a university student from Palestine, to teach him, although he never became proficient in the language. He also spent a week attending the Eleventh Zionist Congress, and read the reports of the Jewish agricultural colonies in Palestine with great interest. [16]

  In the opinion of literary critic Harold Bloom, author of The Western Canon, “Despite all his denials and beautiful evasions, [Kafka’s writing] quite simply is Jewish writing.”[17]

  Literary career

  Kafka’s writing attracted little attention until after his death. During his lifetime, he published only a few short stories and never finished any of his novels (with the possible exception of The Metamorphosis, which some consider to be a short novel). Prior to his death, Kafka wrote to his friend and literary executor Max Brod: “Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others’), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread.”[18] Brod overrode Kafka’s wishes, believing that Kafka had given these directions to him specifically because Kafka knew he would not honor them—Brod had told him as much. (His lover, Dora Diamant, also ignored his wishes, secretly keeping up to 20 notebooks and 35 letters until they were confiscated by the Gestapo in 1933. An ongoing international search is being conducted for these missing Kafka papers.) Brod, in fact, would oversee the publication of most of Kafka’s work in his possession, which soon began to attract attention and high critical regard.

  All of Kafka’s published works, except several letters he wrote in Czech to Milena Jesenská, were written in German.

  Writing style

  Kafka often made extensive use of a trait special to the German language allowing for long sentences that sometimes can span an entire page. Kafka’s sentences then deliver an unexpected impact just before the full stop—that being the finalizing meaning and focus. This is achieved due to the construction of certain sentences in German which require that the verb be positioned at the end of the sentence. Such constructions cannot be duplicated in English, so it is up to the translator to provide the reader with the same effect found in the original text.[19]

  Another virtually insurmountable problem facing the translator is how to deal with the author’s intentional use of ambiguous terms or of words that have several meanings. One such instance is found in the first sentence of The Metamorphosis. Another example is Kafka’s use of the German noun Verkehr in the final sentence of The Judgment. Literally, Verkehr means intercourse and, as in English, can have either a sexual or non-sexual meaning; in addition, it is used to mean transport or traffic. The sentence can be translated as: “At that moment an unending stream of traffic crossed over the bridge.”[20] What gives added weight to the obvious double meaning of ‘Verkehr’ is Kafka’s confession to Max Brod that when he wrote that final line, he was thinking of “a violent ejaculation”. In the English translation, of course, what can ‘Verkehr’ be but “traffic”?[21]

  Critical interpretations

  Critics have interpreted Kafka’s works in the context of a variety of literary schools, such as modernism, magical realism, and so on.[22] The apparent hopelessness and absurdity that seem to permeate his works are considered emblematic of existentialism. Others have tried to locate a Marxist influence in his satirization of bureaucracy in pieces such as In the Penal Colony, The Trial, and The Castle,[22] whereas others point to anarchism as an inspiration for Kafka’s anti-bureaucratic viewpoint. Still others have interpreted his works through the lens of Judaism (Borges made a few perceptive remarks in this regard), through Freudianism[22] (because of his familial struggles), or as allegories of a metaphysical quest for God (Thomas Mann was a proponent of this theory.

  Themes of alienation and persecution are repeatedly emphasized, and the emphasis on this quality, notably in the work of Marthe Robert, partly inspired the counter-criticism of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, who argued that there was much more to Kafka than the stereotype of a lonely figure writing out of anguish, and that his work was more deliberate, subversive, and more “joyful” than it appears to be.

  Furthermore, an isolated reading of Kafka’s work — focusing on the futility of his characters’ struggling without the influence of any studies on Kafka’s life — reveals the humor of Kafka. Kafka’s work, in this sense, is not a written reflection of any of his own struggles, but a reflection of how people invent struggles.

  Biographers have said that it was common for Kafka to read chapters of the books he was working on to his closest friends, and that those readings usually concentrated on the humorous side of his prose. Milan Kundera refers to the essentially surrealist humour of Kafka as a main predecessor of later artists such as Federico Fellini, Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes and Salman Rushdie. For García Márquez, it was as he said the reading of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis that showed him “that it was possible to write in a different way.”

  Publications

  Much of Kafka’s work was unfinished, or prepared for publication posthumously by Max Brod. The novels The Castle (which stopped mid-sentence and had ambiguity on content), The Trial (chapters were unnumbered and some were incomplete) and Amerika (Kafka’s original title was The Man who Disappeared) were all prepared for publication by Brod. It appears Brod took a few liberties with the manuscript (moving chapters, changing the German and cleaning up the punctuation), and thus the original German text was altered prior to publication. The editions by Brod are generally referred to as the Definitive Editions.

  According to the publisher’s note[23] for The Castle,[24] Malcolm Pasley was able to get most of Kafka’s original handwritten work into the Ox
ford Bodleian Library in 1961. The text for The Trial was later acquired through auction and is stored at the German literary archives[25] at Marbach, Germany.[26]

  Subsequently, Pasley headed a team (including Gerhard Neumann, Jost Schillemeit, and Jürgen Born) in reconstructing the German novels and S. Fischer Verlag republished them.[27] Pasley was the editor for Das Schloß (The Castle), published in 1982, and Der Proceß (The Trial), published in 1990. Jost Schillemeit was the editor of Der Verschollene (Amerika) published in 1983. These are all called the “Critical Editions” or the “Fischer Editions.” The German critical text of these, and Kafka’s other works, may be found online at The Kafka Project.[28]

 
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