Cover image for The trial
The trial
Kafka, Franz, 1883-1924.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cutchogue, N.Y. : Buccaneer Books, [1976]

Physical Description:
282 pages ; 23 cm
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The story of the mysterious indictment, trial, and reckoning forced upon Joseph K. in Franz Kafka' s "The Trial" is one of the twentieth century' s master parables, reflecting the central spiritual crises of modern life. Kafka' s method- one that has influenced, in some way, almost every writer of substance who followed him- was to render the absurd and the terrifying convincing by a scrupulous, hyperreal matter-of-factness of tone and treatment. He thereby imparted to his work a level of seriousness normally associated with civilization' s most cherished poems and religious texts. Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir

Author Notes

Franz Kafka -- July 3, 1883 - June 3, 1924

Franz Kafka was born to middle-class Jewish parents in Prague, Czechoslovakia on July 3, 1883. He received a law degree at the University of Prague. After performing an obligatory year of unpaid service as law clerk for the civil and criminal courts, he obtained a position in the workman's compensation division of the Austrian government.

Always neurotic, insecure, and filled with a sense of inadequacy, his writing is a search for personal fulfillment and understanding. He wrote very slowly and deliberately, publishing very little in his lifetime. At his death he asked a close friend to burn his remaining manuscripts, but the friend refused the request. Instead the friend arranged for publication Kafka's longer stories, which have since brought him worldwide fame and have influenced many contemporary writers. His works include The Metamorphosis, The Castle, The Trial, and Amerika.

Kafka was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in August 1917. As his disease progressed, his throat became affected by the TB and he could not eat regularly because it was painful. He died from starvation in a sanatorium in Kierling, near Vienna, after admitting himself for treatment there on April 10, 1924. He died on June 3 at the age of 40.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Kafka's posthumously published The Trial and The Castle rank among the 20th century's most influential novels. Along with such shorter works as The Metamorphosis & Other Stories (Audio Reviews, LJ 12/95), they demonstrate how existential angst, alienation, and Freudian guilt can be molded into compelling fiction. The Trial, for example, opens with the unexplained arrest of Joseph K., a reputable banker. Never actually jailed, K. carries on with his normal life but with the burden of preparing a legal defense without knowing what he is charged with or who his judges are. His shadowy and often comic "trial" drags on for a year, until he is quietly, and equally inexplicably, executed. Is he guilty? If so, of what? The Castle, too, deals with uncertainty, frustration, and guilt. Its protagonist, also named "K." arrives in a village to take up a position as land surveyor for the imposing castle that looms over the landscape. No matter what K. does, or with whom he negotiates, he never gets close enough to the castle to have his appointment confirmed. Kafka might easily have been forgotten after he died in 1924. Not only did he leave unfinished the books that would later make him famous, he instructed his friend Max Brod to destroy them. Brod instead worked Kafka's chaotic manuscripts into publishable form and vigorously promoted the writer's literary reputation. Scholars have recently reedited Kafka's manuscripts to capture more closely the flavor of his language, and they have unraveled Brod's arbitrary arrangement of Kafka's unnumbered chapters. Moreover, these new editions have been translated by scholars committed to reflecting the author's original German as closely as is possible in English. Better still, Geoffrey Howard has recorded impeccable readings of both books. These Blackstone audiotapes are, apparently, the first commercially available recordings of Kafka's novels. Purchasing them may be the easiest acquisitions decision librarians will ever need to make.ÄKent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Josef K is thirty years old. He lives in rented accommodation in a large town and works for a bank. One day, although he has done nothing wrong, he is arrested. Two guards appear and start to intimidate him. He is not told the nature of the charge. And so begins a nightmare of successive scenes -- an irregular magistrate's office, a bizarre court appearance, his arresting guards being flogged... Franz Kafka began this piercing vision of state control versus the individual in 1914 and, finished by a friend after his death, it became one of the most prescient and influential novels of the 20th century. Franz Kafka, born in Prague in 1883, is one of the most influential writers of the early 20th century. His writing tends to focus on individuals trapped in a nightmarish world. He worked as an insurance officer and factory manager as well as a writer. He died in Austria aged 40. Rupert Degas can be heard reading True History of the Kelly Gang, PS I Love You, Lord Loss and The Saga of Darren Shan. He has lent his voice to numerous cartoons, including Mr. Bean, Robotboy and Bob the Builder. He spent eighteen months in the West End performing in the comedy Stones in his Pockets. Excerpted from The Trial by Franz Kafka All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

George Steiner
Introductionp. vii
Chapter 1

p. 1

The Arrest
Conversation with Frau Grubach
Then Fraulein Burstner
Chapter 2

p. 31

First Interrogation
Chapter 3

p. 49

In the Empty Courtroom
The Student
The Offices
Chapter 4

p. 74

Fraulein Burstner's Friend
Chapter 5

p. 83

The Whipper
Chapter 6

p. 91

K.'s Uncle
Chapter 7

p. 113

Chapter 8

p. 166

Block, the Tradesman
Dismissal of the Lawyer
Chapter 9

p. 197

In the Cathedral
Chapter 10

p. 223

The End
Appendix I The Unfinished Chapters
On the Way to Elsap. 233
Journey to His Motherp. 235
Prosecuting Counselp. 239
The Housep. 245
Conflict with the Assistant Managerp. 250
A Fragmentp. 256
Appendix II The Passages Delected by the Authorp. 257
Appendix III PostscriptsMax Brod
To the First Edition (1925)p. 264
To the Second Edition (1935)p. 272
To the Third Edition (1946)p. 274
Appendix IV Excerpts from Kafka's Diariesp. 275