It has been a few years since I visited this forum, but I've been busy reading authors such as Kafka, Tacitus, Livy, Nietzsche, Steven Pinker and Matthew Ridley.
Is Titania7 still here?
I submit here a review I just wrote of “The Castle” by Franz Kafka
A Review Of The Castle By Franz Kafka (unfinished)
Franz Kafka (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was born in Prague (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) to German speaking Jewish parents. Kafka's relationship with his father (Hermann) was troubled to say the least. The now published “Letter To My Father” portrays Hermann as a selfish, over-bearing, domineering ogre of a man. Franz Kafka first studied chemistry at university but switched to law after two weeks and ended up working as a clerk at a government insurance office where he gained first hand experience living under a stifling, oppressive bureaucracy that is a major theme of his oeuvre. Kafka contracted tuberculosis in 1917, the condition worsened and after seeking treatment in Kierling, Austria he died apparently from starvation as his condition rendered his throat too painful for him to swallow food and food tube technology had not been invented at that stage nor had antibiotics.
“The Castle” is a remarkable tale that is just as relevant today as it ever was and reinforces the view that in the game of life the cards are stacked against us. The novel begins with the protagonist known as K. arriving late one cold, snow-bound day at a settlement that resembles a medieval fiefdom and which consists of a central “Castle” inhabited by a secretive society of apathetic and insensitive aristocratic officials and their servants that apparently spend their time administering the affairs of the surrounding village. In this vivid instantiation of a darkly comic, Kafkaesque world K's ostensible goal is to get into the Castle and meet with a senior official known as Klamm. However his dogged attempts to reach his self-imposed goal are continually thwarted and frustrated, the metaphorical device of walking through deep snow used by Kafka is particularly apt.
Kafka paints a haunting picture of a world of uncertainty and ambiguity where there are no firm facts with which to ground oneself with, all knowledge is socially constructed. Throughout the narrative K. is met with distrust, mockery and at times, outright hostility. K is treated like a child by the peasantry because he doesn't have the good sense to accept his lot in life. The illogical assumptions of the village folk which K. meets are based largely on conjecture and an irrational reverence for the authorities residing in the Castle and when K. challenges the prevailing beliefs of the peasantry he is enervated by a futile dialogue which progresses no where. Each new acquaintance K. makes in the village only seems to frustrate him rather than inspire him. The sand continually shifts under K's feet, ultimately nothing can be achieved in such a world, that the novel was never finished only serves to reinforce it. K. is trapped in a social maze ultimately he finds himself back where he started betrayed by the fiancée he initially won and with the same undetermined social status, the only difference being is that he has been rendered utterly exhausted both mentally and emotionally, by his experiences.
I'm think I'm going to go into more detail and write a more comprehensive plot summary because in my view there is real gold in this novel.