Max Brod is probably the worlds’ greatest publicist. He famously refused his writer friends’ dying wish to destroy all his work after his passing.
This friend was of course, Franz Kafka. And against Kafka’s wishes Max Brod did publish his works and subsequently Kafka became known to the world as an absolute literary genius.
The only other Kafka I read before this was one was The Metamorphosis and liked it a lot. So I hate to admit it: but I was a bit bored reading The Trial.
The Metamorphosis is more concise, and much more over the top. Which absolutely works. The Trial however, is much tamer.
Sure, I can see what’s happening and what Kafka is trying to accomplish. And the ideas and underlying themes he’s playing with. And I really like the dreamlike/nightmarish parallel world Kafka created for the main character. This is of course his well-known watermark: creating these typical Kafkaesque surreal settings. And I thought the doorkeeper story within the story maybe was the most interesting.
Maybe it was my stiff Dutch translation, but overall I had a hard time getting into it.
So mr. blogger, you dare to call Kafka overrated? Not exactly, but I cannot let go of the idea that part of the appeal is Kafka’s elusiveness.
A prolific perfectionist writer who does not want to be published? Who had a very troubled relationship with his abusive father? A writer who died young of malnutrition? A writer who only finds succes after his death? A writer whose books are posthumously (sometimes) scraped together from bits and pieces of scrap paper, so you can forever fawn over the true meaning and interpretation of it?
This is all too much right up the literary world alley.
No doubt The Trial has had great cultural and literary impact. But if you pass this book to someone unbeknownst to all this, I think they might not enjoy it as much as critics tend to think.
Nonetheless these are two pretty good videos explaining what makes Kafka an interesting writer. And I am still interested in his other stories.
Also published on Medium.