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The Castle (Penguin Modern Classics) (original 1926; edition 2000)

by Franz Kafka

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4,82343956 (3.94)114
Member:Dr.Creps
Title:The Castle (Penguin Modern Classics)
Authors:Franz Kafka
Info:Penguin Books (2000), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**
Tags:European Literature

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The Castle by Franz Kafka (1926)

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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Just so hard to get into, similar to The Trial but not as interesting. ( )
  notmyrealname | Jan 23, 2014 |
A land-surveyor simply named K travels to a distant village after being summoned to work there by officials at the mysterious Castle. Upon arrival, he is treated poorly by the majority of the local villagers and is told that a mistake was made when he was offered a job as there is no work for him. However, K does manage to almost immediately become engaged to the barmaid Frieda and make friends with the messenger Barnabas and his family, who are considered outcasts of society because of his sister Amalia's refusal to offer sexual favors to a Castle official. Meanwhile, K fruitlessly pursues Klamm, the Castle official assigned to him, in hopes of finding out more about his situation. Additionally, K tries to manage the annoying antics of the two assistants he meets upon arrival at the village and is given a deal to work as the school's janitor in lieu of the land-surveying he expected.

I am going to start this review by openly and only somewhat abashedly noting that the reason I gave this book such a low rating is because I flat out did not understand what was going on the majority of the time. Kafka is known for being surreal and writing in a dream-like logic, but this book crossed a line for me. While I enjoyed both The Metamorphosis and The Trial, The Castle dragged on far too long for me without ever seeming to make a point. My research on the book points to various themes of the book: religion/salvation (which I did not see at all); isolation/alienation (yes, it's there but c'mon already, how many long dialogues do we need to get that K and the Barnabas family don't fit in?); and bureaucratic red tape (which The Trial already covered perfectly). But, as I hinted out above, the book just went on for too long to make me care any longer about trying to suss out what on earth Kafka was talking about anymore. There is no real action in the book and little by the way of "showing" in the narration. Rather, the book is just one long series of monologues with characters going on and on about the Castle and its inhabitants, often contradicting themselves as their speeches droned on interminably. There's only so much a reader can take of yet another character saying something about how K doesn't know how things work in the village and how wonderful the Castle officials are, no matter how unattainable they may be.

Some readers have noted that this book is "funny," presumably in a dark humor/satirical way, but sadly I did not find that to be true for the vast majority of the text. Again, the narrative really seemed to drag at times, and I lost a lot of interest by the half-way point, after which I was just ready for it to end. When the book did finally conclude - if you can call a unfinished sentence a conclusion - I was just happy it was over (although that was mixed with annoyance that the end was uncompleted!).

I recognize that Kafka was ill and dying when he wrote this book and that he asked that his unfinished manuscripts be destroyed upon his death; therefore this criticism of the novel is somewhat unfair as the author was unable to revise, edit down the superfluous dialogue, fix the strange POV/tense change near the end, etc. Nevertheless, as this book is highly praised as a "must-read" classic, I looked at it through that critical lens and was deeply disappointed. The audio version with the equally praised narrator George Guidall did little to remedy the situation. I found Guidall a dull reader who only added to my attitude of "hurry-up-and-be-done" regarding this book. I'd very much recommend The Metamorphosis, The Trial, or even the short stories to anyone interested in reading Kafka for the first time, but I'd steer people away from this book personally. Just my two cents. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Oct 4, 2013 |
An intriguing book that suffers from being too long and unfinished. [b:The Trial|17690|The Trial|Franz Kafka|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/414xH1FM-3L._SL75_.jpg|2965832] will remain my favorite Kafka novel and the one I feel is most representative. This one has the same nightmarish quality in which the characters make strange decisions and encounters manifest seemingly out of thin air. The dream-logic is alternately fascinating and maddening, but the whole thing just dragged on for too long. Sometimes, especially toward the end, a minor character blathered for pages to no ultimate purpose.

I suppose it is worth a read as a cultural artifact, but really to get the idea all you have to do is read Amelia's and Olga's story from p.243-301. This part was actually pretty wonderful as it explains in a microcosm the entire idea behind Kafka's absurd universe, in addition to displaying some biting satire of bureaucracies and gossipy society in general. The entire concept of sinning, redemption and forgiveness loses any sort of meaning in such a world. That section alone was masterful (would that the rest of the novel had been so concise). Additionally, the "Homage" introduction by Thomas Mann is well worth reading for his insight into Kafka's personality as well as this novel. A "religious humorist" indeed (although maybe I'm in the minority of those who don't really find Kafka all that funny?). ( )
  blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
Not designed to soothe. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jul 26, 2013 |
George Guidall narrates and therefore mmmm. Such a treat. I couldn't listen to two Martin Amis books in a row because both are narrated by Graeme Malcolm and so I'd confuse them. Kafka is as good an interruption as any, and George Guidall means mmmm.
  ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (195 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franz Kafkaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brod, MaxEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harman, MarkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, ErnstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kandinsky, WassilyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kurpershoek, TheoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mann, ThomasHomagesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muir, EdwinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muir, WillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pasley, MalcolmEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sötemann, GuusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilkins, EithneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was in the evening when K. arrived.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805211063, Paperback)

They are perhaps the most famous literary instructions never followed: "Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread...." Thankfully, Max Brod did not honor his friend Franz Kafka's final wishes. Instead, he did everything within his power to ensure that Kafka's work would find publication--including making some sweeping changes in the original texts. Until recently, the world has known only Brod's version of Kafka, with its altered punctuation, word order, and chapter divisions. Restoring much of what had previously been expunged, as well as the fluid, oral quality of Kafka's original German, Mark Harman's new translation of The Castle is a major literary event.

One of three unfinished novels left after Kafka's death, The Castle is in many ways the writer's most enduring and influential work. In Harman's muscular translation, Kafka's text seems more modern than ever, the words tumbling over one another, the sentences separated only by commas. Harman's version also ends the same way as Kafka's original manuscript--that is, in mid-sentence: "She held out her trembling hand to K. and had him sit down beside her, she spoke with great difficulty, it was difficult to understand her, but what she said--." For anyone used to reading Kafka in his artificially complete form, the effect is extraordinary; it is as if Kafka himself had just stepped from the room, leaving behind him a work whose resolution is the more haunting for being forever out of reach.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:18 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A surveyor is lost in a labyrinth in this 1926 German novel, reflecting the author's concern with man's inability to assert himself in the face of bureaucracy. It is a new translation that restores the eccentricities in style of the original.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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