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Old 11-24-2009, 08:03 PM   #1
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Discussion: The Trial by Frans Kafka

Tells us about your "trials" of reading this book. What did you think of it. What was the book about? Was the book about any thing? Why do the judges live in the attic?

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Old 11-26-2009, 06:13 AM   #2
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I have to confess that I gave up about a third of the way through. I found it an extremely tedious book. Sorry .
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Old 11-26-2009, 11:19 AM   #3
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I have to confess that I gave up about a third of the way through. I found it an extremely tedious book. Sorry .
I agree... it was. But, it was small, and I kept thinking the author would explain what was really going on. Alas, I was disappointed.

But, I did finish it.

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Old 11-26-2009, 11:28 AM   #4
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I thought the first third was fairly interesting, the second third had me gripped, and the last third was a struggle.

It reminded me of 'Catch 22' - a one-theme novel that would have been better as a short story.
I liked the evocation of dream-like scenes, and the overall sense of pessimism and futility was interesting. I imagine it was supposed to be an allegory of a human life from birth to death, and all the inconsequential things that happen in between.
Interesting, but not as good as 'Metamorphosis'. 6/10
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Old 11-26-2009, 11:59 AM   #5
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I liked the evocation of dream-like scenes, and the overall sense of pessimism and futility was interesting. I imagine it was supposed to be an allegory of a human life from birth to death, and all the inconsequential things that happen in between.
Yes, well said. My thinking was that "The Trial" was more about the trials of ones life. Also, how things that are totally unexpected can crop up and take over your life. Things like marriage, the birth of a child, a sickness or death in the family, a catastrophic event, etc.

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Old 11-26-2009, 12:05 PM   #6
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Here are some study guide questions. The site I got it from said they are "free" so I hope they don't mind me posting them here to spark our discussion.

Here is where I got them, giving credit where it is due:
http://thebestnotes.com/booknotes/Tr...y_Guide20.html

1. What are the two levels at which the novel operates?

2. What is K's guilt? Why does he consider himself guilty?

3. What is the significance of the lawyer Huld?

4. Would you call Block, the hero of the novel, because he submits to Fate and understands the system?

5. How relevant is Kafka's story in a democratic set up today?

6. Why does K submit meekly to his executors?

7. What do you think of the painter, 'Tutterolli'?

8. Write a note on the voyeuristic reader or the reader's response as identified with the silent observers in the book.

9. Write a short note on Frau Grubach.

10. Delineate K.'s, relationship with women in 'The Trial'.

11. Delineate K.'s, relationship with women in 'The Trial'.

12. Describe the character of Block-the tradesman.

13. Contrast the women characters Fräulein Bürstner and Leni.

14. Comment on the use of spaces-the townscape outside the window and the vaulted architecture of the Cathedral as the background to important events in the book.

15. Write a detailed essay on the courtrooms and the procedure of the courts in bringing the accused to trial.

16. The use of metaphor in Kafka's 'The Trial'.

17. 'Alienation' as characteristic of modernistic fiction in the role of K.

18. The role of the prison Chaplain in K.'s life.

19. A short note on the whipping scene.

20. Write a note on the changes in furniture, robing and disrobing in the book.

21. The role of the usher in the book.

22. The use of parables in giving a message.

23. Commentary as a Judaic method used in literature. (e.g. Description of court procedures)

24. The, use of metaphor in 'The Trial'. (The answer is 'dizziness, the dog metaphor, robing, Leni's webbed fingers...)

25. The legend as a tool in the telling of the tale. (The doorkeeper)

26. The use of allegory. (The whipping scene)

27. Kafka's obsession with the 'guilt' of the fallen man or, as the corner stone of Judeo Christian religion.
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Old 11-26-2009, 12:06 PM   #7
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I read somewhere there was a discussion about how relevant this book is in parallel with the patriot act. Being arrested and put on "Trial" for something.. you don't know what you did, and you aren't told. Also, how policy and procedure seems more important than justice?

Thoughts?

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Old 11-26-2009, 12:51 PM   #8
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I have some preliminary reactions to my first reading of the book.

Even though it deals with an individual in conflict with a state, I don't think it is in the least political. The place and time of the story and the nature of the political and legal system involved are too vague for this to be satire. There is nothing specific enough to be satirized.

The Trial has a dream-like quality in which events don’t follow a realistic logic. If the book is about something it is about Joseph K’s thoughts and emotions, particularly his anxieties.

I think it needs to be experienced and not interpreted. I don’t think it is an allegory. It can’t be reduced to some succinct and specific meaning.

We can all relate to it because we have all had experiences that in some way resemble it. We were all children who had to follow rules that we didn’t understand. We all have faced or have known those who have faced life-threatening illnesses (or other catastrophes) that strike without reason, like Joseph K’s unexpected arrest. At the most general level, we all have to make decisions, including very important ones, without having adequate information to make them wisely.
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Old 11-27-2009, 12:22 PM   #9
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15. Write a detailed essay on the courtrooms and the procedure of the courts in bringing the accused to trial.
.
Well Bob we'd be here all day posting and reading if we answered all those questions!

In ref to #15-Don’t think I have the time or inclination to do a detailed essay. After all, I finished school many years ago!

But, here are my thoughts on The Trial:

Although the book started out interesting it soon lost my interest. I only hung on until the end to see if Kafka ever found out why he was arrested. When this book was written maybe people were arrested for an unknown reason. Can you imagine being arrested and not being told why? How could you possibly defend yourself! In today’s society I don’t believe anyone would settle for this and of course there are many laws to protect citizens from this happening. But could he have been part of a secret society (mob?) and it was their “court” he was going thru?

When Kafka went to his first trial (and I believe the only one) it seemed unreal. Like it was fake. So Kafka acted like a pompous jerk. I think he felt he was superior to the people attending. I would want to know why this court was so secret and hidden away in an attic. The only way you knew about it was to be arrested or knew someone else who got arrested?

The whipping scene was strange (and in the bank too!). Then to have the scene still going on the next day (or was that a dream)!?

I feel at the end Kafka felt he had no choice (or still thought it was a dream) to go with his executioners. Wasn’t the businessman still fighting his case after five years?

Overall, glad I finished the book. Don’t think I will be reading it again.
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Old 11-27-2009, 12:44 PM   #10
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Even though it deals with an individual in conflict with a state, I don't think it is in the least political. The place and time of the story and the nature of the political and legal system involved are too vague for this to be satire. There is nothing specific enough to be satirized.

The Trial has a dream-like quality in which events don’t follow a realistic logic. If the book is about something it is about Joseph K’s thoughts and emotions, particularly his anxieties.
I'm not that far yet, but very early in the book there was something that could indicate that he enters a parallel world. Not neccessarily a 'true' parallel world, perhaps more to indicate K. enters a different state:
Quote: "The next room, which K. entered more slowly than he had intended, looked at first glance exactly the same as it had the previous evening. [...] Perhaps there was a little more space in there than usual ..."

I don't think it's about anything more specific than 'life' either - perhaps certain states of life. It's interesting that he's first arrested on his birthday (if not his 30th, it's thereabout) and that he's allowed to go to work again.
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Old 11-27-2009, 03:47 PM   #11
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I don't think it's about anything more specific than 'life' either - perhaps certain states of life. It's interesting that he's first arrested on his birthday (if not his 30th, it's thereabout) and that he's allowed to go to work again.
But could it be a birth day in a different sense? The start of the novel is like K has just been born, he's hungry and disconcerted and wants to know why he isn't being fed. He comes across as petulant and the 'policemen' treat him like a child, telling him what to do and refusing to answer his questions; they are also 'significantly bigger' than K and one of them even says to him "The way you’re carrying on, it’s worse than a child."
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Old 11-30-2009, 07:04 PM   #12
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But could it be a birth day in a different sense? The start of the novel is like K has just been born, he's hungry and disconcerted and wants to know why he isn't being fed. He comes across as petulant and the 'policemen' treat him like a child, telling him what to do and refusing to answer his questions; they are also 'significantly bigger' than K and one of them even says to him "The way you’re carrying on, it’s worse than a child."
Interesting comments. After seeing them, I noticed something similar when rereading chapter 7:

As the two men leant over the desk and the manufacturer made some effort to gain and keep the deputy director’s attention, K. felt as if they were much bigger than they really were and that their negotiations were about him.

(This occurs on page 107 of the epub version from Feedbooks.)
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Old 11-30-2009, 07:12 PM   #13
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The following is from chapter 7 after Joseph K. has decided to take a more active role and prepare his own defense document:

He no longer felt the contempt for the trial that he had had earlier. If he had been alone in the world it would have been easy for him to ignore it, although it was also certain that, in that case, the trial would never have arisen in the first place.

(Page 103 of the Feedbooks epub).

Joseph seems to think that if he had had no family ties he would not have been accused. I don't know what to make of this. Anyone care to comment?
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Old 12-02-2009, 05:55 PM   #14
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I think this book is very much worth discussing, so I'll try again to provoke some discussion.

What is the priest's parable (in chapter 9) about? I think it's about the elusiveness of meaning and the inevitability of incomprehension. I think the book, itself a parable, is about the same thing.

In a different vein, why does Kafka make Joseph such a jerk? How would it change the book if Joseph were more likeable or admirable?
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Old 12-02-2009, 11:50 PM   #15
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Thank you, Vector! You have nailed exactly why I have been having so much trouble w/this book...Joseph is such an unsympathetic character, a complete jerk.

So much so that I lose interest, change books and then have a problem getting back into The Trial.

Wanting to read many of the classics I missed reading in my youth and thinking the commentary would be interesting and stimulating, I did try. It's probably the case that I am not an allegorically (is that a word?) inclined reader.

Finishing has become a chore, one I don't need right now.
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