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The Castle (1926)

by Franz Kafka

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,23174922 (3.95)156
A remote village covered almost permanently in snow and dominated by a castle and its staff of dictatorial, sexually predatory bureaucrats - this is the setting for Kafka's story about a man seeking both acceptance in the village and access to the castle. Kafka breaks new ground in evoking a dense village community fraught wiht tensions, and recounting an often poignant, occasionally farcical love-affair. He also explores the relation between the individual andpower, and asks why the villagers so readily submit to an authority which may exist only in their collective imagination.Published only after Kafka's death, The Castle appeared inthe same decade as modernist masterpieces by Eliot, Joyce, Woolf, Mann and Proust, and is among the central works of modern literature. This translation follows the text established by critical scholarship, and manuscript variants are mentioned in the notes. The introduction provides guidance to the text without reducing the reader's own freedom to make sense of this fascinatingly enigmatic novel.… (more)
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» See also 156 mentions

English (61)  Catalan (2)  Italian (2)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
For a while I considered rating The Castle with two stars only. The beginning was great, but a very long middle portion can perhaps best be described as simply boring. However, just when I was considering quitting, the pace picked up again and the last few chapters pulled me right back in. So three stars it is.

However, I think I'm quitting [a:Kafka|7215381|Kafka, Franz|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png]. After [b:The Metamorphosis|485894|The Metamorphosis|Franz Kafka|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1359061917s/485894.jpg|2373750] and [b:The Castle|333538|The Castle|Franz Kafka|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1331696371s/333538.jpg|17778410] I have to conclude I'm not a big fan of his work. Maybe I'm too impatient, maybe my expectations are wrong, but I have great difficulties seeing why Kafka supposedly is the most important author of the 20th century.

There are lessons to be learnt from his literature and his view on life can be compelling. But his writing is not meant for my poor little brain. :-) ( )
  bbbart | Dec 27, 2020 |
Kafka's last drill bit. ( )
  skroah | Dec 14, 2020 |
Ogni volta che rileggo questo libro rinvengo analogie parallele con Il deserto dei Tartari di Buzzati. Drogo, in Buzzati, attende l'evento che potrebbe dare una svolta alla sua vita. Il signor K in Kafka cerca con ogni mezzo di conseguire un evento analogo. Uno passivamente; uno attivamente. Entrambi senza riuscirci mai veramente, se non quando è troppo tardi. Sembrano entrambi riportare simbolicamente il senso di un'esistenza che diventa ricerca continua e che solo di rado concede di conseguire ciò che si vorrebbe davvero? Forse perché, in realtà, non è ciò che veramente vorremmo? ( )
  Carlomascellani73 | Oct 30, 2020 |
Genetics provides only the blueprint for a mind, and our brains are capable of reprogramming through learning and experience. If Kafka can so eloquently describe the complexity of the trap, you could see it as halfway to designing a means of improving the way we live. In “The Castle” Kafka describes K. climbing a wall as a child, not because he couldn't walk around it but because of the sense of achievement and improved perspective it gave. I think Kafka understood that to keep struggling was better than giving up. However dark his writing is, I'm not getting the same sense of nihilism I found with Camus. Re-reading “The Castle” kept reminding me of the film “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, with that same odd blend of dark surrealism and humour. Given that the film is based on the writing of Stefan Zweig, a contemporary of Kafka's, I can start to get a sense of him in the context of a time and place that was beginning to question tradition in art and society. I can view him as part of a world where traditional art was about to be confronted by the anti-bourgeois Dadaism. Kafka is giving me a claustrophobic vision of a man trapped within a Russian doll. First in his own mind, then by the people who surround him, then by the bureaucracy of an indifferent higher authority and finally by the incomprehensible nature and brevity of human existence. It must have rattled the complacency of a world where people believed they had already answered all the questions relating to modes of living; with class systems, religion, order and the rule of law. The time surrounding WW1 shows up over and over again in literature as a period of enormous change throughout Europe, and a reflection of that cataclysmic alteration is definitely there when I read Kafka's work. I can trace a process of confronting tradition and exposing its deficiencies from Dickens, through Kafka and onwards, to writers like Stella Gibbons. I'm sure there are many other authors that represent that same shift to more modern modes of thought, and if I ever become well-read enough, I'll likely find I can almost infinitely expand the list.
Kafka seems to be describing an issue of society, where people become trapped within roles and find that free will is limited to a narrow path by the potential detrimental consequences of straying from that path.

The interesting part is there is a suggestion that The Castle also appears to be made up of individuals fulfilling set roles, and this leads to the tantalising suggestion that that there is nobody in overall charge. Does the Village dictate the actions of the Castle as much as the other way around?

How free really is an individual government official, president, prime minister or even dictator to steer society away from a potentially self-destructive course? Are they constantly restricted by the role they play and the potential unwanted consequences of every small action? They can't alter the big picture because of the instability generated in even effecting a small change.

There was also a comedy series produced here a few years ago called “Yes Minister”, in which a government minister rapidly discovered that every noble action he tried to perform had unforeseen consequences that ended up in disaster. Kafka has this to say about the officials in “The Castle”:

"How can a single official issue a pardon? At best that could only be done by the authorities as a whole, but even they can't issue a pardon, only come to a decision."

I think the problem as Kafka saw it wasn't with individuals but in the societies we inevitably construct. Without building cooperative societies we could not have progressed to the point we have, but they also develop a momentum of their own which restricts us as individuals and can lead us down potentially collectively self-destructive paths. There is not yet a perfect society, only ones balanced on a knife edge which are less bad than others.

It's the paradox of both needing the construct of society and being controlled by it that Kafka describes so brilliantly. Society itself effectively becomes an entity which is outside anyone's control.

The interesting question is whether literature merely reflects changes that are already occurring in society or if writers, like Kafka, are actually driving that change. I kind of suspect the latter. ( )
1 vote antao | Aug 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (83 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kafka, Franzprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Böhmer, GunterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bell, AntheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bragg, BillIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brod, MaxEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fabian, ErwinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harman, MarkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, ErnstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muir, EdwinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muir, WillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pasley, MalcolmEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rho, AnitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sötemann, GuusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilkins, EithneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English (2)

A remote village covered almost permanently in snow and dominated by a castle and its staff of dictatorial, sexually predatory bureaucrats - this is the setting for Kafka's story about a man seeking both acceptance in the village and access to the castle. Kafka breaks new ground in evoking a dense village community fraught wiht tensions, and recounting an often poignant, occasionally farcical love-affair. He also explores the relation between the individual andpower, and asks why the villagers so readily submit to an authority which may exist only in their collective imagination.Published only after Kafka's death, The Castle appeared inthe same decade as modernist masterpieces by Eliot, Joyce, Woolf, Mann and Proust, and is among the central works of modern literature. This translation follows the text established by critical scholarship, and manuscript variants are mentioned in the notes. The introduction provides guidance to the text without reducing the reader's own freedom to make sense of this fascinatingly enigmatic novel.

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Penguin Australia

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