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THE TRIAL by Franz Kafka read by Geoffrey Howard This disturbing and vastly influential novel has been interpreted on many levels of structure and symbol but most commentators agree that the book explores the themes of guilt anxiety and moral impotency in the face of some ambiguous force Joseph K is an employee in a bank a man without particular qualities or abilities He could be anyone and in some ways he is everyone His inconsequence makes doubly strange his arrest by the officer of the court in the large city where K lives He tries in vain to discover how he has aroused the suspicion of the court His honesty is conventional his sins with Elsa the waitress are conventional and he has no striking or dangerous ambitions He can only ask questions and receives no answers that clarify the strange world of courts and court functionaries in which he is compelled to wander The plight of Joseph K consumed by guilt and condemned for a crime he does not understand by a court with which he cannot communicate is a profound and disturbing image of man in the modern world There are no formal charges no procedures and little information to guide the defendant One of the most unsettling aspects of the novel is the continual juxtaposition of alternative hypotheses multiple explanations different interpretations of cause and effect and the uncertainty it breeds The whole rational structure of the world is undermined Is it not better to fall into the hands of a murderer than into the dreams of a lustful woman -- Friedrich Nietzsche Also Sprach Zarathustra The Trial Summary Chapter 1 The Arrest Conversation with Frau Grubach Then Frulein Brstner Joseph K our hero wakes up the morning of his thirtieth birthday expecting his breakfast to be brought to him What he gets instead are two
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