When people use the adjective 'Kafkaesque', it is The Trial they have in mind - the nightmarish world of Joseph K., where the rules are hidden from even the highest officials, and any help there may be comes from unexpected sources. K. is never told what he is on trial for, and when he says he is innocent, he is immediately asked 'innocent of what?' Is he perhaps on trial for his innocence? Could he have freed himself from the proceedings by confessing his guilt as a human being? Has the trial been set up because he is ...
When people use the adjective 'Kafkaesque', it is The Trial they have in mind - the nightmarish world of Joseph K., where the rules are hidden from even the highest officials, and any help there may be comes from unexpected sources. K. is never told what he is on trial for, and when he says he is innocent, he is immediately asked 'innocent of what?' Is he perhaps on trial for his innocence? Could he have freed himself from the proceedings by confessing his guilt as a human being? Has the trial been set up because he is incapable of admitting his guilt, and hence his humanity? The Trial is a chilling and at the same time blackly amusing tale that maintains, to the very end, a constant, relentless atmosphere of disorientation and quirkiness. Superficially the subject-matter is bureaucracy, but the story's great strength is its description of the effect on the life and mind of Josef K. It is in the last resort a description of the absurdity of 'normal' human nature.
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Joseph K. is an average man. He's actually quite boring - most of his time is spent at the bank where he works, where he dreams of future promotions.
Imagine his surprise, when one morning, he is arrested in his apartment! The men who've come for him don't know what he's done, but no one else does either. He's arrested, but he gets to keep going to work and going about his regular business. Its all very strange.
As he learns more about the strange workings of the courts, he realizes he's in more trouble than he'd thought. Everybody seems to be a part of the court, but nobody knows how the courts work. And certainly, no one knows what he's been arrested for, or how he can help himself. Unfortunately, he's already been assumed as guilty by the court, leaving his attempts quite futile.
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