Sunday, December 14, 2008

An attempt to make sense out of an incomplete story.

This weekend I finished reading The Castle, by Franz Kafka. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the book was never finished because of Kafka's death in 1920. It literally ends in the middle of a sentence.

Did I like it? Well, that's hard to say. I don't think the book was meant to be enjoyed. Kafka was a Czech in the early 20th century who wrote about the dark themes around him. Bureaucracy and abuse of power make are the most obvious themes of the story, and reading about it for hundreds of pages can become downright frustrating!

Acquiring a disgust for the same and seeing it in a new light was a worthwhile result, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that it was enjoyable. I echo the words of another reader:

I would read it for a while, often with the mental chuckle of K.'s fight with bureaucracy. But when a story is being told by one of the village residents, it can drag. I couldn't Not read the book, but I couldn't continually read it, either. I stopped a couple times to read something else, then returned and persevered. Overall I liked the novel, but felt it was a chore to read it at times. This is not one of those books for lounging on the beach. I bet it would be most appreciated if read in a classroom setting or some other group where someone knowledgeable can help shed light when the storyline gets too confusing. Yet it's a recommended read for a wandering, realistic feeling window into the life of a government.

He specifically mentions that the story drags when told by one of the village residents. This is an understatement. Monologues with minimal punctuation are common and often go on for several chapters. During one monologue, the protagonist falls asleep while listening to the speaker ramble for two hours. I fell asleep with him.

I'm glad I read it, but it's strange. I'm not sure how I feel about it.

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