The Castle by Franz Kafka pdf
is one of the iconic figures of modem world literature. His biography is still obscured by myth and misinformation, yet the plain facts of his life are very ordinary. He was bom on 3 July 1883 in Prague, where his parents, Hermann and Julie Kafka, kept a small shop selling fancy goods, umbrellas, and the like. He was the eldest of six children, including two brothers who died in infancy and three sisters who all outlived him. He studied law at university, and after a year of practice started work, first for his local branch of an insurance firm based in Trieste, then after a year for the state-run Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute, where his job was not only to handle claims for injury at work but to forestall such accidents by visiting factories and examining their equipment and their safety precautions. In his spare time he was writing prose sketches and stories, which were published in magazines and as small books, beginning with Meditation in 1912.
Kafka’s last novel centres on a simple and compelling cluster of images. A rural castle, the property of an absent nobleman, is run by an administrative staff who dominate the village beneath the castle. The protagonist, K., coming from outside and ignorant of the village and the castle, has painfully to learn their ways and to discover that, despite all his efforts, he cannot gain access to the castle. So far, this may seem to match the associations of gloom and oppression suggested by the term ‘Kafkaesque’. Kafka, however, has much more to offer than the ‘Kafkaesque’, and if one can put aside such presuppositions, The Castle provides many surprising discoveries.
The reader of The Castle is likely already to know The Trial, and may think that Kafka has simply replaced one opaque, hierarchical authority, the court, with another, the castle.1 In their texture, however, the two novels differ considerably. In contrast to the anonymous city of The Trial, The Castle has a vividly presented material and social setting. We are in a remote village, in the depth of winter. The snowbound village is repeatedly evoked: ‘more and more little houses, their window-panes covered by frost-flowers’, ‘a narrow alley where the snow lay even deeper. Pulling his feet out of it as they kept sinking in again was hard work’ (p. 13). We feel how exhausting it is to have constantly to struggle through the deep snow. Moreover, the village is a community, with friendships and hatreds that go back through the generations. …
- Biographical Preface
- Note on the Text
- Note on the Translation
- Select Bibliography
- A Chronology of Franz Kafka
- THE CASTLE
- Explanatory Notes
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