The Trial by Franz Kafka

The thought that there is anything fresh to be said of Franz Kafka’s The Trial is implausible.

. . . .

The secondary literature is cancerous. It multiplies daily in the academy, in belles lettres and literary journalism. It is parasitic on every element (one is tempted to say ‘every paragraph’) of this inexhaustible text. As do very great works in language, in the arts or in music, Kafka’s fiction invites decipherment, and makes of this invitation a trap.

. . . .

One (naive) gloss is this: The Trial is translucent, it stands open to our apprehension as do Biblical parables and narrations. If we remain baffled and rebellious to the light of meaning-a light which may well be inhuman in its indifferent purity- if we do not enter a door open and intended for each and everyone of us, the guilt, the consequences are ours. Or to put it simply: it is not so much we who read Kafka’s words, it is they who read us. And find us blank.

– George Steiner, introduction to the Everyman’s Library edition of Franz Kafka’s The Trial.

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