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I’ve never been so indecisive about what to rate a book as I have been with Kafka’s The Trial.

Upon first finishing it I’d stayed up late absorbing, and trying to get my head around, the last few chapters. I sat in bed thinking ‘well, now I’m definitely not getting to sleep…’. My initial reaction was that it was definitely a 5* worthy book, I hadn’t been made to think about a book in that way for a while, there was so much to take in that my overly-tired state couldn’t process it properly.

When I eventually got to sleep I woke up in the morning thinking ‘I need to re-read those final chapters!’, but kept putting it off because I had so many other books I wanted to get started with. This led to me changing my 5* rating down to a 4*, I couldn’t quite put The Trial on the level of my other top rated books, the writing style was too awkward, the lack of punctuation was tedious etc. etc.

But yet again, as I found with reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, I’ve found myself thinking that over time The Trial has affected me at least as much as some of my other 5* rated books, if not more.

As Borges mentions of Kafka:

‘I had thought, at first, that he was as unique as the phoenix of rhetorical praise; after spending a little time with him, I felt i could recognize his voice, or his habits, in the texts of various literatures and various ages.’

Kafka’s influence is everywhere. The longer I sit and ponder his ideas the more I realise what a genius he really was. From reading Borges essays on him; to seeing the huge influence of his work on Murakami (especially Kafka on the Shore of course); to hearing Deleuze speaking about him in his A-Z; to seeing his undeniable effects on Marquez. I have no doubt now that this book has so many more layers to it than those that I’d initially realised. The bizarre, surreal, bureaucratic, dream world that Kafka creates is something that you see mirrored everywhere, not only in literature or philosophy but in everyday life.

Of all of the books that I think require a second reading this has got to be close to the top of the heap. I can’t wait to read the rest of his repertoire as I’m sure it will only solidify current thoughts towards him. A definite 5*.

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4 thoughts on “The Influence of Kafka’s ‘The Trial’

  1. I gave it 4 stars on goodreads.I don’t know why I didn’t give 5,as it is one of the most influential books I’ve read.

    As John Sutherland said,you don’t read Kafka because of Kafka; you don’t read his books for beauty or whatsoever.Instead Kafka grows on you; everything makes sense when you go out and start seeing that there are powerful organizations/men who make what they want with the little men,which is the basis for The Trial and partly The Castle.Banks and insurance companies,for example,with their loans and interest rates,make us their puppets!

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    • Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been slowly reading Metamorphosis and Other Stories over the last few weeks and I have to say the more I read the more I appreciate Kafka’s genius. Kafka’s literature for me fits really well into post-structuralist philosophy, as soon as we think we understand a particular structure we realise that structure is merely part of the another more all encompassing structure, and on ad infinitum. We can definitely see Kafka influence on Borges here too. Have you read Borges essay Kafka and his Precursors? It’s fantastic.

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