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Foxe, A.N. (1940). Kafka, Franz. The Trial. [New York. Alfred A. Knopf. $2.50.]. Psychoanal. Rev., 27(1):106-108.

(1940). Psychoanalytic Review, 27(1):106-108

Kafka, Franz. The Trial. [New York. Alfred A. Knopf. $2.50.]

Review by:
A. N. Foxe

Kafka who died at forty-one and in 1924, was one of those rare individuals whom we may refer to as a genius, without all of the unpleasant connotations of that word. If James Joyce's Ulysses was a new departure in literature in one way, Kafka's “The Trial” is a new departure in another way and one especially interesting to psychoanalysis. If Joyce is something of a Mondrian to literature, so Kafka is a sort of Dali. I can liken a first reading of The Trial to nothing so much as stepping into a Dali canvas and losing oneself in it. The first effect is quite weird. It reaches into one's unconscious somewhere and the effect is at once pleasant and unpleasant. It is the story of Joseph K. and as the jacket ably describes, “—a respectable functionary in a bank,” who, “is suddenly arrested one fine morning as he gets out bed. He does not know the reason for his arrest—. He is soon set free again, but afterwards he is summoned before tribunal after tribunal, — — and passes the rest of his life in fighting a charge of whose terms he remains ignorant. He is finally executed in a peculiarly gruesome manner.”

“The Trial” is important in its technical novelty but also in what is gained by this technique. If one can imagine oneself slowly moving back and forth from reality to the sleeping state, during a weird dream, throughout an entire novel one may get some idea of the technique, for Kafka without warning takes one from brilliantly lucid description and logic into the most phantastic situations and reasoning imaginable.

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