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Old 12-03-2009, 04:53 PM   #16
Vector
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You have nailed exactly why I have been having so much trouble w/this book...Joseph is such an unsympathetic character, a complete jerk.
Well, Joseph's character may be part of the explanation, but I doubt it's the whole story. I suspect if you thought about it you probably could recall books that you enjoyed without liking the principal character.

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It's probably the case that I am not an allegorically (is that a word?) inclined reader.
This is probably more to the point. The genre, whatever it should be called, seems to be the problem for a lot of people. It's just not to everybody's taste. You have to be willing to enter an unpleasant world. Kafka was not interested in making his readers comfortable.

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How would it change the book if Joseph were more likeable or admirable?
I'll take a stab at answering my own question. If Joseph were a much better person, it would risk turning the story into a simple tale of persecuted innocence. If Joseph were much worse, say a murderer, it would risk turning the story into a simple tale of crime and punishment. As it is, the book is no simple tale of anything but something provocative and disturbing.
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Old 12-03-2009, 05:06 PM   #17
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I'll take a stab at answering my own question. If Joseph were a much better person, it would risk turning the story into a simple tale of persecuted innocence. If Joseph were much worse, say a murderer, it would risk turning the story into a simple tale of crime and punishment. As it is, the book is no simple tale of anything but something provocative and disturbing.
I agree. Apart from this, I also think it may make Joseph K. a better representation of 'everyman'. Most of us aren't always 'good' or 'bad'. Our inner thoughts doesn't always match the outer facade that we show the world. He comes across, perhaps, a little worse than usual, not a 'happy' person, but also very 'human'.
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Old 12-03-2009, 08:05 PM   #18
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I don't think it's a question of 'better' or 'worse'. He seems to me, I dunno, shallow, vapid...dorky comes to mind. I certainly would not classify him as representative of 'everyman' or very 'human'. I really disagree with you there, Ea.

And you are right, Vector, I can recall quite a few enjoyable books w/principal characters I didn't like...but at least they had some character. This guy for me is what the dictionaries define as 'an unsympathetic in literature or drama'.

You are wrong though on the reluctance to enter unpleasant worlds. Most of my favorite books (Cormac McCarthy oeuvre comes immediately to mind) are set in pretty dismal worlds.

Joseph world is fantastical and therein lies the 'rest of the story'...I don't care for fantasy.

Still I am going to try The Castle.
d
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:30 PM   #19
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Joseph world is fantastical and therein lies the 'rest of the story'...I don't care for fantasy.
I think the term Kafkaesque is more about bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy. The court is just a confusing maze of procedures and that no one understands, even the people that are involved in it, like the lawyers... and then people are involved in it that shouldn't be, like the painter.

It is severely exaggerated of course, but I wouldn't call it a fantasy world.

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Old 12-04-2009, 11:42 PM   #20
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When I say fantastic I'm referring to the physical settings not the situations. It's the situation that epitomizes the Kafkaesque.

But of course you're right, BOb. When I looked it up the definitions usually included something like 'surreal surroundings'. I'd forgotten the 'impending danger' aspect of it.

Would you categorize Albert Camus' (not read for years) or Samuel Beckett's (re-read frequently) writings as Kafkaesque? I think I would, but their settings are recognizable and for me making the situations more Kafkaesque. And more real.

With Kafka's interiors, even streets, being incomprehensible you figure well, I'll just wake up from this bad dream and everything will be fine. Whereas in real life the illogical is intertwined w/the logical, the ordinary, making it that much more bewildering and bizarre.
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Last edited by CharlieBird; 12-04-2009 at 11:44 PM. Reason: missed words
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Old 12-05-2009, 07:49 AM   #21
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Thanks for the discussion everyone. Kinda confirms my decision to not read it.
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Old 12-05-2009, 01:03 PM   #22
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Thanks for the discussion everyone. Kinda confirms my decision to not read it.
It really wasn't the best book I ever read, but I am glad I read it. It was a very short book and a quick read... and some of the parts were a bit humorous (more so than that Three Men and a Boat one).

I am also glad I read A Passage to India even though I didn't totally enjoy that one either.

This is the reason I am in the club to get exposed to new books and authors. I think my favorite book club book so far had to be The Hound of the Baskervilles... I ended up reading the full Holmes collection. Hmmm... this gives me an idea for a new thread and poll.

BOb
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Old 12-05-2009, 01:20 PM   #23
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It really wasn't the best book I ever read, but I am glad I read it. It was a very short book and a quick read... and some of the parts were a bit humorous (more so than that Three Men and a Boat one).

I am also glad I read A Passage to India even though I didn't totally enjoy that one either.

This is the reason I am in the club to get exposed to new books and authors. I think my favorite book club book so far had to be The Hound of the Baskervilles... I ended up reading the full Holmes collection. Hmmm... this gives me an idea for a new thread and poll.

BOb
Thanks Bob, agreed and I may read it at some point, just too many others to read at the moment. I downloaded the December selection let's see if I can get to that one...
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Old 12-05-2009, 07:16 PM   #24
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I didn't find this an easy read but I did find it very interesting.

Some of the scenes seemed to be written in the same style that I have dreams in if that makes sense and for that reason I found it rather fascinating.

I wish I had done a bit more research before reading because I think I would have got more out of it if I had treated it like a piece of art and less like a story.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of his work now
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Old 12-07-2009, 01:44 AM   #25
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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 couldn't finish it, either.. When I read on nightshift, I need something that really 'grabs' me
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:31 AM   #26
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It really wasn't the best book I ever read, but I am glad I read it. It was a very short book and a quick read... and some of the parts were a bit humorous (more so than that Three Men and a Boat one).
BOb
I don't know which translation you read, but if it was the one available here on MR, you should note the comment I made on the translation, namely that a lot of the jokes are sort of lost in the translation. The translation by Breon Mitchell does a lot better at least in that respect.
There are, however, in any case, a lot of the jokes about bureaucrats, the way in which stupid policemen assert their authority in their own little way because they feel that's what's being asked of them, etc. (Much like you would never want to tease a TSA or police officer in the USA: They can do whatever they want in return, and the latter especially can then charge you with "obstruction", "resisting arrest", or "assault" whenever they feel like it.) The system has so many weird and hard-to-explain consequences for individuals (in how small-minded officials think they should behave themselves "as a police officer," and how they should tolerate no lip of any kind, etc.) as well as for anyone "accused" (take things as slowly as possible, don't not-show when you're summoned to court), who need never understand why they've been drawn into this weird netherworld, and will likely feel they don't deserve this (for very good reason), and will then resist, and cast "suspicion" upon themselves for not showing enough respect.

Imagine, for instance, filing a suit against your local county for not giving you a building permit when they should. You file, they wait until the last possible day to submit the stuff they have to submit in order not lose by default, then you wait for the judiciary to move. Then you file your stuff again, they wait until the term is up, and they file something again.
Meanwhile, however, you have to pay a lawyer (while the county likely has one on a retainer/costing them a flat fee per year), and your costs are running up quickly. You play this game until you've won, but by then you will have been unable to build whatever you were planning for 2-3 years, meaning you have been unable to invest this money elsewhere, and you've probably been billed about $200k in lawyer's fees.
Now that you've won, you will have to file a separate suit for reparations (your lawyer's fees, mostly, as well as losses incurred through not being able to do what you wanted).. Which might take another 1-2 years. Does lawyering sound like fun already?

Admittedly the things the lawyers in the Trial do seem a bit more arcane and less useful, but it's not that far from today's experience either.
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