The Trial
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The Trial

By (author) Franz Kafka

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Written in 1914, `The Trial` is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded to the madness of totalitarianism, Kafka's nightmare has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers. This new edition is based upon the work of an international team of experts who have restored the text, the sequence of chapters, and their division to create a version that is as close as possible to the way the author left it. In his brilliant translation, Breon Mitchell masterfully reproduces the distinctive poetics of Kafka's prose, revealing a novel that is as full of energy and power as it was when it was first written.

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  • Paperback | 312 pages
  • 133 x 201 x 17mm | 230g
  • 01 Jul 1999
  • Schocken Books
  • New York
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0805209999
  • 9780805209990
  • 31,896

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Author Information

Franz Kafka was born in 1883 in Prague, where he lived most of his life. During his lifetime, he published only a few short stories, including `The Metamorphosis,` `The Judgment,` and `The Stoker.` He died in 1924, before completing any of his full-length novels. At the end of his life, Kafka asked his lifelong friend and literary executor Max Brod to burn all his unpublished work. Brod overrode those wishes. Breon Mitchell has received the ATA German Literary Prize, among other translation awards. He is a professor of Germanic studies and comparative literature at Indiana University.

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Review quote

`Kafka's 'legalese' is alchemically fused with a prose of great verve and intense readability.` --James Rolleston, professor of Germanic languages and literatures, Duke University `Breon Mitchell's translation is an accomplishment of the highest order that will honor Kafka far into the twenty-first century.` --Walter Abish, author of How German Is It

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Review text

Following closely this year's new version of The Castle, here is another in a series of retranslations based on `restored texts` assembled from Kafka's original manuscripts and notes. Mitchell's translation also proposes to replace an earlier one (by Willa and Edwin Muir) said to have been unduly influenced by the efforts of Kafka's friend and literary executor Max Brod to `improve` the former's chaotic unfinished manuscripts. The Trial (1924) - whose cryptic portrayal of a bank clerk interrogated for an undisclosed offense has become perhaps the dominant image of modernist `absurdity` - holds up well in a version characterized by long, crowded paragraphs and virtually incantatory accusatory repetitions that confer equal emphasis on the novel's despairing comedy and aura of unspecific menace. Admirers of Kafka's fiction will not want to miss it. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Flap copy

Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded to the madness of totalitarianism, Kafka's nightmare has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers. This new edition is based upon the work of an international team of experts who have restored the text, the sequence of chapters, and their division to create a version that is as close as possible to the way the author left it. In his brilliant translation, Breon Mitchell masterfully reproduces the distinctive poetics of Kafka's prose, revealing a novel that is as full of energy and power as it was when it was first written.

show more