John Banville's introduction to The Trial in the Guardian

Commissioned by The Folio Society for our new edition

An edited version of John Banville's introduction to Franz Kafka's The Trial appeared in the Guardian on Saturday 15 January. Born in Prague in 1883, Kafka lived his formative years under the shadow of an authoritarian father and a remote and uncommunicative mother. Most of his working life was spent as an official in the Worker's Accident Insurance Institute, a job he described as 'not an occupation but a form of decomposition'. In 1912, he was introduced to Felice Bauer, and they entered into a disastrous on-off engagement which so infuritated her family that they eventually called a meeting described by Kafka as a 'tribunal' - an experience that directly inspired The Trial. John Banville has produced a brilliant introduction to our edition, containing some inimitable passages, such as this description of Kafka's tortured relationship with Felice Bauer:

'To trace the course of the relation between this driven artist and the endearingly ordinary office worker on whom he had fixed with baleful neediness is to be reminded of the mating antics of one of those deep-water crabs, shuffling this way and that over the sea-floor as it weaves its anguished ritual about the feared and longed-for female, clacking its impossible legs and churning up clouds of sand.'

You can still read the edited introduction on the Guardian website here. To read more about our edition of The Trial click here.

last modified: Mon, Sep 12th 2011Bookmark and Share
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