Before you read my old initial review here's a summary that has been distilled over time in my mind:
Franz Kafka was a true genius. What is this sign of genius? When you can write a classic novel that wasn't even properly completed.
I read The Trial to give myself a better perspective on Kafka's writing style for my literature course. I can perceive similarities to his Metamorphosis but in many aspects this is a completely different work. However they are both challenging pieces with complex ideas behind them that can be observed in easily understood ways.
Kafka intends to shock and stun. He leaves nothing to chance in order to disturb and confuse the reader. The very fact that he also wrote a story about a guy transformed into a bug should indicate that. Here he writes a highly symbolic story which seems to be about life itself. It's as if Kafka likens life to one big trial where you as the defendant cannot defend yourself. After all you have no idea as to the charges. You have no clue why you are accused. And then in the end you die alone without ever really understanding.
This really is a story that pulls no punches. Kafka likes to hit you in the guts and then hit you again while you're still out of breath. And then he likes to blindfold you, spin you around and push you down a hill. When you finish rolling, get up and untie your blindfold he then demands that you work out what on earth just happened. I'm not going to lie his work here is disorientating. And I think that was part of the intended effect. Kafka likely wants his reader to feel the same confusion and alarm as Joseph K. to truly grasp his honest and painful message.
Yet I have to say despite the powerful prose of this work I couldn't enjoy it. I didn't like the sense disorientation and personally feel that Kafka's message - while true in aspects - was a highly pessimistic, cynical overlook. It could just be that I tend to err on the side of optimism and my personal opinion merely clashed with his.
Either way I can see why Kafka's work is regarded as one of the classics and I accept that. For even if I did not enjoy his work here I can see the powerful merit to it and accept that it can still teach lessons. So I do say that it should be read by others who would enjoy it more and extrapolate more from it.4.5 stars