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The Trial (Der Prozess) by Franz Kafka


Courtesy : wikipedia.org

The Trial (Der Prozess)
Author : Franz Kafka
Year Published : 1925
Origin Language : Germany

“I only fear danger where I want to fear it.
Excerpt From: Kafka, Franz. “The Trial.” 

Don't judge me as an avid fans of classics. No, I am not. I am reading almost anything in which I leaded into. For me, reading books is like a meet a destined lover , a serendy pity.

My leaded way into The Trial is of course because of Haruki Murakami. Haruki is one of biggest fans of Kafka's litteratures. Later, after reading the trial, i also find the similiarities between The Trial with Albert Camus's the Strangers, If you are fans of Kafka's, you will not dissapointed to Camus.  

Just like its title, the Trial is story about Josef K, a chief financial officer of a bank whom struggle with a trial.  On his thirtieth birthday,  Josef K. is unexpectedly arrested by two unidentified agents from an unspecified agency for an unspecified crime. K. is not taken away but left "free" to await instructions from the Committee of Affairs. He goes to work as usual.  

K. receives a phone call summoning him to court, and the coming Sunday is arranged as the date but no time is set. K come to the given addres that turns out to be a huge tenement building. K. has to explore to find the court, which turns out to be in the attic. Although he has no idea what he is charged with, or what authorizes the process, makes a long speech denigrating the whole process, including the agents who arrested him, and during which an attendant's wife is raped. He then returns home.

And what, gentlemen, is the purpose of this enormous organisation? Its purpose is to arrest innocent people and wage pointless prosecutions against them which, as in my case, lead to no result. How are we to avoid those in office becoming deeply corrupt when everything is devoid of meaning? That is impossible, not even the highest judge would be able to achieve that for himself. That is why policemen try to steal the clothes off the back of those they arrest, that is why supervisors break into the homes of people they do not know, that is why innocent people are humiliated in front of crowds rather than being given a proper trial." Josef K's long speech during his hearing

K. later goes to visit the court again, although he has not been summoned. Court is not in session. K is wandering arround the building and met the attendant's wife, who attempts to seduce him. That woman is trying to gives him more information about the process and offers to help him. K.  At this chapter, I found that something is odd with K, he is so easily to get mad and then easily believe to a unknown woman. He seems like a confuse man who receives any hands that offered to him. 

K. is visited by his uncle, who was K.'s guardian. The uncle seems distressed by K.'s predicament. At first sympathetic, he becomes concerned K. is underestimating the seriousness of the case. The uncle introduces K. to a lawyer, who is attended by Leni, a nurse, who K.'s uncle suspects is the advocate's mistress. During the discussion it becomes clear how different this process is from regular legal proceedings – guilt is assumed, the bureaucracy running it is vast with many levels, and everything is secret, from the charge, to the rules of the court, to the authority behind the courts – even the identity of the judges at the higher levels. The attorney tells him that he can prepare a brief for K., but since the charge is unknown and the rules are unknown, it is difficult work. It also never may be read. 

While his uncle is involved in deep conversations with the lawyer, K. is called away by Leni, who takes him to the next room, where she offers to help him and seduces him. They have a sexual encounter. Once again, I am being disturbed with the easiness of K to get involved with woman. Afterwards K. meets his uncle outside, who is angry and, who accuse K.'s has lack of respect to the case.

"Well she might be your lover now, then," said Leni, "but you wouldn’t miss her much if you lost her or if you exchanged her for somebody else, me for instance.” Leni tries to seduce K, even after K showing the picture of his lover. 

K. visits the lawyer several times. The lawyer tells him incessantly how dire his situation is and tells many stories of other hopeless clients and of his behind-the-scenes efforts on behalf of these clients, and brags about his many connections. The brief is never complete. 

Eventually, K.'s work at the bank deteriorates as he is consumed with worry about his case. One day, K's bank clients is visiting him while K is not the mood to do any job. But the Client told K that he is aware that K is dealing with a trial. Later, the client told that he knew it from Titorelli, a painter and advises K to ask an advice to the painter. 

K's is curious so he went to visit Titorelli.  Titorelli lives in the attic of a tenement in a suburb on the opposite side of town from the court that K. visited. Titorelli turns out to be an official painter of portraits for the court – an inherited position, and has a deep understanding of the process. K. learns that, to Titorelli's knowledge, not a single defendant has ever been acquitted. He sets out K.'s options and offers to help K. with either. 

Learnt the court's stuff from Titorelli, K. decides to take control of matters himself and visits his lawyer with the intention of dismissing him. At the lawyer's office he meets a downtrodden individual, Block, a client who offers K. some insight from a client's perspective. Block's case has continued for five years and he has gone from being a successful businessman to being almost bankrupt and is virtually enslaved by his dependence on the lawyer and Leni. The lawyer mocks Block in front of K. for his dog-like subservience. This experience further poisons K.'s opinion of his lawyer. (This chapter was left unfinished by the author.)

K. is asked by the bank to show an Italian client around local places of cultural interest, but the Italian client, short of time, asks K. to take him only to the cathedral, setting a time to meet there. When the client doesn't show up, K. explores the cathedral which is empty except for an old woman and a church official. Later, the priest calls out K.'s name and he tells K a fable about the doorkeeper. The priest is acknowledged that K is currently facing a trial. 

Overall, the trial is a deep philosophy novel which told us the story about how unreachable the court's from the ordinary person's point of view. The process is not clear for common people, and till the very end, the reason why K's in trial is left unknown. The story about a businessman whom facing trial for five years and the unfair of the lawyer is precisely described how corrupted bureaucracy that time. 

While reading the Trial, I cannot help my self checking whether Kafka is very fluent with law. In fact, Kafka himself is a lawyer in insurance company. The name of protagonist itself, Josef K, made me claim that this novel is somehow an individual experience of Kafka. The trial process and how Josef K's feeling is described beautifully and in a very tiny detail which show the deep understanding of the writer on law process.

They’re forced to spend all their time, day and night, with their laws, and so they don’t have the right feel for human relationships, and that’s a serious shortcoming in cases like this.” K's opinion about lawyer

“The right to acquit people is a major privilege and our judges don’t have it, but they do have the right to free people from the indictment.” . K's opinion about the judges

The disturbed K tickle my curiosity about the background of the writer. The deep psychological analysist on the protagonist character is amazed me, just like when I read Camus's literature. In fact, from the Kafka's bio itself, I found that Kafka is not a psychological ordinary individual ( don't prejudice it as mentally disturbed man!!). He also categorized as a writer whom chose existentialism.  

Well, over all, if you searching for psychological involvement, and deep analysist on philosophy, the Trial is masterpiece. Not my type, but as a book lover it is a'must-read' novel.

If you want to read the e-book version of The Trial, please click here!

I blog with BE Write

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