This edition of Kafka's terrifying and comic masterpiece is the product of an international team of experts who used Kafka's original text and notes to render this story as close to the author's vision as possible. Kafka's final novel tells the haunting tale of a man's relentless struggle with authority in order to gain entrance to the Castle.
The story of K the unwanted land surveyor who is never to be admitted to the Castle and yet cannot go home seems to depict, like a dream from the deepest recesses of consciousness, an inexplicable truth about the nature of existence. A perpetual human condition lies at the heart of this labyrinthine world: dualities of certainty and doubt, hope and fear, reason and nonsense, harmony and disintegration. An unfinished novel that feels strangely complete, "The Castle" uses absurd fantasy to reveal a profound truth.
Though Kafka seemed to think this work a failure, it has been recognized by critics as one of the greatest novels of its century.
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.
Mark Harman, who has written extensively on German and Irish literature, is Professor of English and German at Elizabethtown College.