The Castle

The Castle

Book - 1954
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Publisher: New York : Knopf, 1954
Edition: Definitive ed
Characteristics: xvi, 481 p. 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Muir, Willa 1890-1970
Muir, Edwin 1887-1959


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Mar 13, 2020

The Castle is an incredible book. I've only read this translation twice but have read the Muir translation at least five times. This version is closer to the way Kafka left the novel in his manuscript pages as opposed to Max Brod's edited version that the Muir translation was based on. The story of K. is like a strange dream where he repeatedly encounters bizarre situations in his quest to be acknowledged by the enigmatic castle authorities. Is Klamm real or an illusion? And the episode of Olga and her disgraced family is truly strange and disturbing. It appears to be a surrealistic view of life in a totalitarian society. Olga's brother Barnabas who acts as a messenger for the castle appears to be almost angelic in his innocence as he seeks a pardon for the supposed sins of his family. The book reaches its apex in the night meeting with a castle official and echoes similar episodes from Gilgamesh and other classic myths. The castle itself is an elusive dream which recedes further away the closer one approaches. The stories told by Olga and other characters in the book are so convoluted and intricate in detail that they are often absurdly comical. Kafka had a strange sense of humor but he did have one. Anyone reading this book should be advised not to expect anything as conventional as a plot. In fact I would recommend newcomers to Kaka to start with a short story collection. I probably did. But I've been reading and rereading this book for forty years and it continues to be my favorite. In fact I love this book so much that I wrote the following poem about it:


K stood there
as if in the clouds,
gazing into
his jacket gave off
a brilliant sheen,
he seemed to be asleep
A bell up there
rang out cheerfully,
“a girl from the Castle”
she held an infant at her breast.
[Through the proximity
of the nocturnal visitor
our official powers increase]
the files were still lying there
on the threshold
but gradually
start moving again
the humming of countless
children’s voices;
ghosts disappear
toward morning.
Throughout even the most
beautiful day,
snow falls.

Dec 28, 2017

A narrative epitome of neuroticism; every character remains sane, and behaves sanely, and even explains what they to in a sane way, and assumes their village is completely normal and sane - but its all totally insane! Utterly serpentine sentences and reckoning and bureaucratic systems. All the action occurs in only eight days: the main character in that time gets another job, and finds a fiance, and get left by his fiance, seems to make headway towards his original purpose, but then seems further away than ever. Maddening!

Sep 27, 2017

My first exposure to Kafka was in a second year German class in college, more than 50 years ago. To say that I had trouble with Die Verwandlung would be a gross understatement. I finally ran to the school library for an English version, only to find that I had read it correctly. Kafka's attention to detail is phenomenal, and the writing is almost stream of consciousness. Each character's viewpoint is spelled out.
He is sort of an acquired taste. Newcomers to Kafka might start with The Hunger Artist (Hungerkunstler) or The Metamorphosis, mentioned above, before jumping into The Castle.

Aug 24, 2016

In this dream-like writing, the protagonist is on what seems to be a simple task-- to find his purpose-- which is not easy to discover. In time, his mission becomes shrouded by mystery.

Jun 02, 2016

Only someone trying to convince others that they are literate and intellectual would praise this work which is so unmitigatedly boring that I had to make myself finish it. It is just absolute bilge. Do not waste your time unless your life is so sterile that you must mention to others: "I read Kafka."

angela_ma Apr 30, 2012

Bizarre and beautiful book, unfortunate ending.


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White_Cat_283 May 02, 2012

White_Cat_283 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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