The Trial is a maze-like novel in which the main character is trapped in an endless series of situations that appear to offer no way out. One leads to the other, as if one were walking inside a maze, taking Mr. K, the protagonist, away from the exit to the point where he finds himself completely disoriented. The world of justice, and ultimately, the world of human relations, as well as the whole society of the time are depicted in this book. Kafka’s magnificent writing immerses us in that baffling universe of ambiguity, false promises and false saviors that sink Mr. K and drag us with him.
In the first chapter of the book, bank manager Mr. Josef K is charged —probably without grounds— with a crime he is unaware of and which is never explained to him. He does not know why, where, or when it happened. He is not the only one. When he is submerged into the legal bureaucracy, he finds other people who are also looking for a way out of that nightmarish maze. But they can’t. Everything in this book is mystery. There are characters who want to help him, but K realizes they are as powerless as he is faced with the system. He visits decaying places searching for the court assigned to his case, but never finds it. An uncle talks him into seeing a lawyer for the poor, who, bedridden, tells him everything about legal processes and how hard it is to defend yourself, but he does not help him with his problem. That is the reason why he decides to defend himself, which ends up being a trap that devours him. He then resorts to a court painter who says he might be of help. Nothing seems to lead anywhere, though. Finally, after yet another series of confusing situations, he talks with a priest who tells him a famous story about the Law. Everything is futile. One night, two guards come after him and, without saying a word, take him away to the suburbs, where his sentence is executed. Before his end, Josef K. confesses to his captors, taking someone else’s blame, in hopes that by doing so he will find an explanation to everything he’s been through.
The book offers a sharp criticism of mankind, of a society which enforces absurd rules leading to more absurd rules to the point of depriving humans of the sense of living. A satire of a society that imposes conditions on its innocent citizens, endless bureaucracy and interpersonal relationships, which are sometimes inscrutable.
It is a must-read, though readers might find it somewhat hard at the beginning and rather complex at some points. It is an amazing book.
Translated by Flavia Marcos & Natalia Riera Rima Traducciones