If Max Brod had obeyed Franz Kafka's dying request, Kafka's unpublished manuscripts would have been burned, unread. Fortunately, Brod ignored his friend's wishes and published The Trial, which became the author's most famous work. Now Kafka's enigmatic novel regains its humor and stylistic elegance in a new translation based on the restored original manuscript.Thirty-year-old Josef K., a financial officer in a European city bank, is suddenly arrested. He is subjected to hearings, questioning, and visits from officials. Defending his innocence against charges that are never explained to him, he watches his life dissolve into absurdity. Whether read as an existential tale or a parable, this haunting story stands out as one of the great novels of our time.
Breon Mitchell, a professor of Germanic Studies and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, has received national awards for his literary translations. The renewed energy and power of this classic work are complemented by veteran narrator George Guidall's superb performance.
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Excellent New Translation of a Classic Novel
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the novel is the humor that Kafka injected into the story. As an example, the protagonist, Joseph K. is advised to meet with the court painter, of all people, in order to get a detailed explanation of the secret workings of the lower court hearing his case. After the painter provides Joseph K. with a long, absurd and incomprehensible explanation of the court proceedings, he manages to browbeat K. into buying three of his paintings which are exactly the same. This is very funny section of the novel.
There is one absurd scene after another in this novel. They are often simultaneously hilarious and frightening. Not many writers can achieve that effect,
George Guidall manages to capture Joseph K's growing despair and resignation through his voice inflections.
After spending months fighting against unspecified charges, convinced that he has done nothing wrong, an exhausted Joseph K. accepts his fate.
I like this relatively new (1998) translation by Breon Mitchell. I checked it againt the restored German text and it seems to be much more accurate than the earlier translation by Willa and Edwin Muir.