The Castle by Franz Kafka

August 1st, 2008 at 6:12 am

In his essay on Franz Kafka in the infinitely special Cultural Amnesia, Clive James recommends that, “The best way to approach Kafka is probably just to plunge into The Castle and get lost. Getting lost and staying lost is the whole idea of the book, and a matchless symbol for how, according to Kafka, we really feel underneath, when we momentarily convince ourselves that we know what’s going on, while still suspecting that the momentary conviction might be part of the deception.”

The Castle by Franz Kafka

I took Clive’s advice and got lost.

I really like The Castle. But in the way that you like some books without having anything intelligent to say about them. You just like them. (I feel this way about The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye.)

Reading The Castle was like watching a really weird, exotic-but-not-necessarily-pretty flower bloom very slowly. And even after it has blossomed, wilted, and blown away in a shivering breeze, you’re still not sure what exactly you saw happen. Was it a sunrise or a car crash? Regardless, watching it was certainly an interesting, visceral experience.

In regards to The Castle’s bizarre, otherworldly world, The Critic Establishment is left to describe it as “enigmatic” and “dark” and “haunting” and “brooding.”

I think what they mean is what I call weird. The Castle is weird. It takes you to a strange place full of strange people saying things strangely. So it’s rather intriguing in that way. “What the hell is going on here?” is a reader’s predominant question while reading it. But alas, Kafka left it unfinished upon his death, even leaving it mid-sentence.

But there is now the outside chance of resolving the incomplete matter with the death of Max Brod’s secretary who had been hoarding Kafka’s papers.

I rather like The Castle the way it is. It’s my opinion that things are best when

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One Response to “The Castle by Franz Kafka”


    you may see them soon.

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