(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
The story of the mysterious indictment, trial, and reckoning forced upon Joseph K. in Franz Kafka’s The Trial is one of the twentieth century’s master parables, reflecting the central spiritual crises of modern life. Kafka’s method–one that has influenced, in some way, almost every writer of substance who followed him–was to render the absurd and the terrifying convincing by a scrupulous, hyperreal matter-of-factness of tone and treatment. He thereby imparted to his work a level of seriousness normally associated with civilization’s most cherished poems and religious texts.
Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir
About the Author
Franz Kafka was born to Jewish parents in Bohemia in 1883. Kafka s father was a luxury goods retailer who worked long hours and as a result never became close with his son. Kafka s relationship with his father greatly influenced his later writing and directly informed his Brief an den Vater (Letter to His Father). Kafka had a thorough education and was fluent in both German and Czech. As a young man, he was hired to work at an insurance company where he was quickly promoted despite his desire to devote his time to writing rather than insurance. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote a great number of stories, letters, and essays, but burned the majority of his work before his death and requested that his friend Max Brod burn the rest. Brod, however, did not fulfill this request and published many of the works in the years following Kafka s death of tuberculosis in 1924. Thus, most of Kafka s works were published posthumously, and he did not live to see them recognized as some of the most important examples of literature of the twentieth century. Kafka s works are considered among the most significant pieces of existentialist writing, and he is remembered for his poignant depictions of internal conflicts with alienation and oppression. Some of Kafka s most famous works include The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle.
Muir was an important Scottish novelist, poet, and critic.
“This short novel has passed into far more than classical literary status . . . Countless are those who have not read it but who are familiar with its main outline and situations . . . In more than one hundred languages, the epithet ‘kafkaesque’ attaches to the constants of inhumanity and absurdity in our times . . . In this diffusion of the kafkaesque into so many recesses of our private and public existence, The Trial plays a commanding role.”
–from the Introduction by George Steiner