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The Trial Paperback – Jul 22 2009

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The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (July 22 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048647061X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486470610
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #76,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jan Dierckx on April 23 2010
Format: Paperback
What is the story? K. is "arrested", "sentenced" and put to "death". I'm not spoiling anything because this novel is not really a story but a dreamlike description of an ordeal. What happens in the end is more or less irrelevant except for one thing. The last scene of the novel where K. is stabbed dead by two members of the "law enforcement", contains a very important clue to understand the novel. K.'s last words are 'Like a dog!' That's right, like a dog and not like a human being. At the very last moment K. finally understands that during his whole life he was only interested in what he could GET from other people and he never was concerned with what he could GIVE to other people. He lived like an animal so to speak, like a dog.

And that's the reason why he's "arrested". Let's not forget that the word "arrest" also means that someone has ceased to grow up and to develop his character. In a certain way K. is still a child. This second meaning of the word arrest is the reason why no one can tell him why he's arrested, every time that K. asks that question. K. himself is the only person who can answer that question: I'm too selfish and I have to change my ways. There is a chapter that illustrates what I mean.

When K. and his uncle arrive at the house of K.'s lawyer, the door is opened by the lovely maid Leni. K. is obviously very keen on her. There is also a senior clerk of the Court. He has taken a special interest in the trial of K.. They all meet in the bedroom of the lawyer who has a weak heart and has to stay in bed. When the important discussion is about to begin, a noise is heard from the kitchen. K. says that he will go to the kitchen to see what's wrong. With a sigh of relief he closes the door behind him.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janet Thibaudeau on May 31 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a challenge!!!! Did not like this book one bit! It made NO sense to me, and there was never an explantion
to "The Trial". I don't know what the Author was talking about - ever! I will not read him again. I only read it
as a Book Club choice and my only comment will be - "Painful"!!!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 823 reviews
100 of 106 people found the following review helpful
Engrossing and disturbing at the same time - fantastic. Sept. 7 2005
By M. Strong - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's fascinating to see the divergent reviews that this book generates; for my part, I couldn't put it down. The book creates a world and atmosphere in which you become completely engrossed - it is a disturbing place to be.

The story follows Joseph K while he is on trial by a seemingly arbitrary court system. What starts out feeling like a cautionary tale about misplaced and abused power quickly gets stranger and morphs into a story of a deeper and more personal trial. Before long, you notice that K is the one who seems to be doing the work of trying himself.

I was left thinking for a long time about the meaning behind the story and a lot of its symbols and components - I don't consider the fact that I still had questions to be a bad thing. On the contrary, this one left me feeling strangely energized.

Highly recommended for people who like philosophy, examinations of the human condition, or existentialism.
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
A recommended read Nov. 29 2009
By Maria Savva - Published on
A man wakes up one day to find he has been changed into a large insect/beetle. The story follows his efforts to deal with this, and his family's reaction to the change. But it's not just a story about a man turning into a beetle, it's a clever way of writing about how a family would deal with the main breadwinner in the house becoming unable to work, and also on a wider scope, the way a family (and the world at large) reacts to someone who is disabled, or terminally ill. It could also be an analogy for how a family treats a member of the family who is now old and needs to be cared for. The man who is now a beetle, is forced to live in his room, shut away from the world, for fear that he will frighten anyone who enters the house. The man who once provided for the family, and thought of them above himself, has now become a burden on them, as they are now short of money, and have to find employment. The once able and hard-working man, transformed into a beetle, is now rejected, and his family blame him for their financial situation and the fact that they cannot move to a smaller house, because they need to have a room to keep him in.
The descriptive quality of the writing is excellent, and although it is a sad and gruesome tale, it is also very funny in parts; I couldn't help laughing out loud a couple of times.
The main thing that struck me, was that even though this story is nearly 100 years old, it is still totally relevant to today's world (and I'm not sure that's something we should be proud of)
127 of 140 people found the following review helpful
Are we all Gregor Sassma? Maybe, Franz, maybe... Jan. 4 2002
By Jeffrey Ellis - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For all the debate and argument over what this story means, the plot of the Metamorphosis is refreshingly simple. Gregor Sassma wakes up one morning and discovers that, over the course of the night, he's been transformed into a giant insect. The rest of this novella deals with Gregor's attempts to adjust to his new condition without providing a burden for his parents (who he has spent his life supporting and, it is made clear, veiw their son as little more than a commodity to be exploited) or for his sweet younger sister who Gregor views with an almost heart breaking affection. For his efforts to not bother society with his new insect identity, Gregor is both shunned and eventually destroyed by that same society, which of course now has little use for him. As dark as that plot outline may sound, what is often forgotten (or simply ignored) is that the Metamorphosis is -- in many ways -- a comic masterpiece. Instead of engaging in a lot of portentous philosophizing, Kafka tells his bizarre tell in the most deadpan of fashions. Ignoring the temptation to come up with any mystical or scientific explanations, Kafka simply shows us that Gregor has become an insect and explains how the rest of his short life is lived. This detached, amused tone makes the story's brutal conclusion all the more powerful.
As well, for all the theories on what Kafka's "saying" with this story, the reasons behind Gregor's transformation are not all that complicated or hard to figure out. Kafka, as opposed to too many other writers since, declines to spell out the specific reasons but still makes it clear that Gregor (and by extension, all the other Gregors in the world) had allowed himself to become a powerless insect long before actually physically turning into one. As someone who as selflessly sacrificed whatever independence he may have had to support his uncaring parents and their attempts to live an "upper class" life without actually having to suffer for it, Gregor has already willingly given up all the unique traits that make one a human. For me, even more disturbing than Gregor's fate, is Kafka's concluding suggestions that, now that Gregor has outlived his usefulness, his parents will now move on to his innocent sister. In short, despite the example of Gregor's own terrible fate, society will continue on its way with the majority of us giving up our own humanity to support the whims of a select few.
From the brilliant opening lines all the way to its hauntingly deadpan conclusion, The Metamorphosis is a powerful and satirical indictment of the bourgeois condition. Over the past few decades, the term Kafkaesque has been tossed around with a dangerous lack of discretion. It seems any writer who creates an absurd or dark trap for his main character ends up being labeled Kafkaesque. However, as this story especially makes clear, Franz Kafka was more than just an adjective. He was a unique and individual writer whose brilliance cannot be easily duplicated.
46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
This is how all classics should be treated. Aug. 16 2001
By darragh o'donoghue - Published on
Format: Paperback
For the reader new to Kafka as a writer, there is a lot of baggage to be thrown off: everything implied by the cliche 'Kafkaesque' we've gathered from films, other books and the like (alienation, angst, modern man and the Absurd, the terror of totalitarian bureaucracy, etc.); everything, in other words, that has made a caricature of an original vision.
So, for the first-time reader of Kafka, there are some pleasant surprises in 'the Metamorphosis'. The novella is often very funny - Gregor's orientation to his condition (he enjoys running up the walls and hanging off the ceiling) and the reaction of his family and manager provoke some priceless farcical set-pieces. It is a Gothic story - about a salesman who turns into a monstrous vermin, and the aghast reaction of his family; there are some unexpected frissons in the story we would normally expect from the horror genre. It is a portrait of a complacent middle-class family in decline, a la Galsworthy, or a study of the artist in an impoverished family with a weak but aggressive father, like Joyce's 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. There are even elments of sentimental melodrama in the way Kafka loads up the sympathy for his monster in the face of almost caricatured hostility - I found myself welling up once or twice.
This is not to diminish Kafka's dark and frightening vision, just to suggest how much of his art depends on play, with narrative modes and genres, with narration, with reader's expectations. The horror, anxiety, unease, if you like, is actually quite marginal on the surface - the oppressive vastness of his familiar bedroom as perceived by Gregor in his new form; the endless vista of an adjacent hospital. It's under this surface that the true anxiety lies - the gaps in the narration, the unreliability of Gregor's perceptions and interpretations, the ambiguity of Kafka's language, the witholding and gradual unfolding of details. There don't seem to be any mirrors in the Samsa household, but the story is full of mirror-like tableaux - the portrait of the lady in furs; the photo of Gregor as a young soldier; the image of domestic life viewed every evening by Gregor in darkness.
If only all classics were treated with the respect of this edition. the translation is mostly smooth and fresh, with occasionally clumsy constructions and jarring Americanisms (are there really trolleys and foyers in Kafka's world?). The critical apparatus provides endless intellectual nourishment - manuscript revisions revealing the precision of Kafka's writing; an account of the story's genesis, creation and background through letters, diaries and related Kafka works; and seven critical essays from perspectives as varied as feminism, psychoanalysis, new-historicism and linguistics, some infected by the usual blights of literary criticism (e.g. undigested globs of French theory making argument and prose impenetrable; distortion of text to produce biased interpretaions), but which insightfully open up the astonishing density and ambiguity of a 40-page fable, offering ingenious, mutually excluxive, even contradictory readings that are all very plausible, and yet ultimately miss Kafka's elusive enigma.
52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Disorder In The Court Sept. 1 2002
By Alex Udvary - Published on
Format: Paperback
We should all know the story concerning one of the greatest novels ever written, about a man being awaken to find out he is under arrest for a crime he knows nothing about, and charged by an unknown person.
It's been debated as to what is really Kafka's novel all about. Some say, it's "hero"(?) Joseph K. represents the "every man". Who has been forced to live in a world, where's man's biggest sin is being himself. The character K. like Kafka himself feels they are an outsider in a world they cannot function in. Others still, see the book as merely a semi-autobiography as Kafka's own feelings of worthlessness. We all know Kafka even doubted his own talents as a writer. But, yet again, others think that "K." is not the "every man". That he is guilty of his "sins".
So, what does all of this prove? It simply goes to show you the impact Franz Kafka has left on the world. Here we have a book published in 1925 and still causes debate as to what exactly were Kafka's intentions. If, infact, he didn't have any intentions!
'The Trial', to me is a story of a man's loneliness. It's a story of man who probably is guilty of what he is charged with. And we slowly read about his desent into a world of paranoia. I've heard some people agrue that what happens to "K." is all merely a dream. None of it ever really happened, but, it was "K." himself who brought this punishment on himself. Sort of like how Kafka himself did by never marrying the girl he loved, by living in the shadows of his father, who he adored, and never having an self confidence. If what happens in 'The Trial' is a dream, you can bet "K." learned something.
There's something about Kafka that fasincates me. He is one of my favorite authors. I find Kafka himself to be just as interesting has the stories he wrote. People tend to forget or overlook something in Kafka's writing. He WAS funny. His novels all have moments that are truly inspired. One of my favorite chapters in this book deals with "The Painter". What happens has "K." trys to leave and the Painter stops him asking him if he wants to buy a painting had me laughing.
For those of you who have never read this book, I do completely recommend it. You will find the book to be fascinating. Kafka was a master of thinking up these surreal stories. You may be bothered by the book's conclusion. Not that you'll mind the final act against "K." but, you'll be bothered by the way it happens. You would have expected more of a set-up. I know I did. Others who read the book may feel the book is incomplete. And that may lead them to dislike it. You are right in your judgement that the book is incomplete, but, remember, Kafka never wanted any of his books published. There's actually a chapter in here that was never finished. And, even though it is incomplete that didn't stop me from truly enjoying this masterpiece. If you have never read anything by Kafka, this is a fine place to start. I hope everyone finds 'The Trial' to be as enjoyable as I did.
Bottom-line: One of the great works by Kafka. It touches on themes that were ahead of their time. Themes that are still around us today. An excellent example of the paranoid mind. Everyone should read this!