‘Somebody must have made a false accusation against Josef K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.’
A respectable young banker, Josef K., is arrested on his 30th birthday and never ﬁnds out why. After his arrest, K. still goes to work, is visited by his uncle and even carries on abortive romances with various women. Yet all the while, the noose is tightening ... Kafka powerfully captures the plight of a helpless individual caught up in the toils of a meaningless, implacable system. As in a nightmare, K. finds that rooms change conﬁguration without warning; people behave according to a bizarre logic; K. knows things without knowing why or how. Yet the overall effect is of inescapable reality.
In 1912, Kafka was introduced to a young office worker named Felice Bauer, and they entered into a long and disastrous on–off engagement. Infuriated by his vacillations, Felice’s family called a meeting that Kafka described as a ‘tribunal’. Introducer John Banville shows how this experience inspired The Trial, and how the novel perfectly illustrates Freud’s deﬁnition of the uncanny as ‘the familiar re-presented to us in unfamiliar guise’. This edition is illustrated by Bill Bragg and translated by Idris Parry.
Read more about the life and work of Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka is one of only a handful of writers whose names have entered into the vernacular: ‘Kafkaesque’, meaning bizarre, illogical, claustrophobic and, often, the product of a sinister, arbitrary bureaucracy. His three novels, two of which were unﬁnished, were published posthumously by his literary executor against his stated wishes. These books – unsettling, thought-provoking, yet with frequent ﬂashes of humour – have left an indelible mark on modern literature, inﬂuencing many later writers, from Albert Camus and Paul Auster to J. M. Coetzee and W. G. Sebald.
Born in Prague in 1883 to a German-speaking Jewish family, Kafka spent most of his career in the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute. He hated his job, but was a conscientious employee, who helped many victims of industrial accidents. His work made him sympathetic to the individual faced with the impenetrable tyranny of bureaucracy. In the evenings he worked on his writing, honing his uniquely disturbing vision of the world. These Folio Society editions, published in series with Metamorphosis and Other Stories, are illustrated by Bill Bragg, and use the best available translations, with each book featuring a newly commissioned introduction.