(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
Arriving in a village to take up the position of land surveyor for the mysterious lord of a castle, the character known as K. finds himself in a bitter and baffling struggle to contact his new employer and go about his duties. As the villagers and the Castle officials block his efforts at every turn, K.’s consuming quest–quite possibly a self-imposed one–to penetrate the inaccessible heart of the Castle and take its measure is repeatedly frustrated. Kafka once suggested that the would-be surveyor in The Castle is driven by a wish “to get clear about ultimate things,” an unrealizable desire that provided the driving force behind all of Kafka’s dazzlingly uncanny fictions.
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.
“Of all Kafka’s fiction this is the most personal. K. is not of course a mouthpiece for Kafka–he lacks Kafka’s grave intelligence and humor–but his inner conflict between a taste for ordinary life and the demands imposed by his quest were in good part shared by Kafka . . . The Castle projects a greater strength of will than we have encountered in Kafka’s earlier writings–an effort to overcome the muteness of existence.” –from the Introduction by Irving Howe