Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Trial by Franz Kafka

Someone must have traduced Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.

This is the translation that I have by Willa and Edwin Muir, but I prefer this one translated by David Wyllie:

Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.

Breon Mitchell's translation:

Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested.

The reason for the preference of the last two is that there is no mention of the "fine" weather, just that he is arrested in the morning. In any case, all three translations are excellent.

The opening line from The Trial is what a first sentence should be. No wonder it's so famous. It raises questions, introduces a character and a situation pregnant with conflict. It also foreshadows what K. can expect throughout the rest of the novel, indicating a futile and hopeless mood. From this line, conflict and character unravel in what is known as The Trial.

First thing said:

"Who are you?"

Verdict: Pure Genius (Can't get this out of my head; MUST read on - I've been manipulated!)

This from Daniel S. Burt's book called Novel 100, the top 100 novels of all time. There is debate of course as to what should be on that list, but his is as good as any. The Trial is number 51.

Theodore Moracht