Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Castle

Blurb: The story of K, the unwanted Land Surveyor who is never to be admitted to the Castle nor accepted in the village, and yet cannot go home, seems to reveal an inexplicable truth about the nature of existence. In his Introduction, Idris Parry shows that duality - to Kafka a perpetual human condition - lies at the heart of this magnum opus: dualities of certainty and doubt, hope and fear, reason and nonsense, harmony and disintegration. The Castle then, is an unfinished novel that feels strangely complete, in which a labyrinthine world is described in simple language and absurd fantasy reveals profound truth.

Thoughts: I am really growing to love Kafka. The way he writes is incredibly unique. The book has a very surreal dreamlike - or rather nightmarish - narrative and feeling to it. I think his style of writing has a lot to do with this; Kafka did not write with an idea of where the narrative was going, instead it seems to unravel itself. This experimentative way of writing and lack of real plot does create a rambling and sometimes laborious read, but it also gives rise to really very interesting conclusions about human nature.

There are many aspects of The Castle that reminded me of The Trial; the lone protagonist, endless bureaucracy, lack of reason or meaning despite endless interpretations. However, although in many ways it a harder read, I think on balance I actually found it to be more thought-provoking than The Trial.

The feeling that persists is a nightmarish sense of isolation. There are I'm sure copious interpretations, but my impression was that it is this aloneness in the world that The Castle speaks of, and the endless search for understanding and human connection.

The fact that the book is unfinished did not bother me. In fact it felt bizarrely apt that there was no conclusion to K.'s aims and struggles, with the implication of never-ending complications and misunderstanding. In truth this aptness did make me wonder about the reality of Kafka's intentions and whether or not its incompletion was intentional.

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