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The Trial: A New Translation Based on the Restored Text (The Schocken Kafka Library) Paperback – May 25, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: The Schocken Kafka Library
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken (May 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805209999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805209990
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The story of The Trial's publication is almost as fascinating as the novel itself. Kafka intended his parable of alienation in a mysterious bureaucracy to be burned, along with the rest of his diaries and manuscripts, after his death in 1924. Yet his friend Max Brod pressed forward to prepare The Trial and the rest of his papers for publication. When the Nazis came to power, publication of Jewish writers such as Kafka was forbidden; Kafka's writings, many of which have distinctively Jewish themes, did not find a broad audience until after World War II. (Hannah Arendt once observed that although "during his lifetime he could not make a decent living, [Kafka] will now keep generations of intellectuals both gainfully employed and well-fed.") Among the current crop of Kafka heirs is Breon Mitchell, the translator of this edition of The Trial. Rather than tidying up Kafka's unconventional grammar and punctuation (as previous translators have done), Mitchell captures the loose, uneasy, even uncomfortable constructions of Kafka's original story. His translation technique is the only way to convey the comedy and confusion of this narrative, in which Josef K., "without having done anything truly wrong," is arrested, tried, convicted and executed--on a charge that is never disclosed to him. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Kafka's final work was left unfinished at the time of his 1924 death, and the original 1925 and subsequent editions were edited according to the standards of the day. This edition endeavors to restore the text as closely as possible to the original manuscript. According to the publisher, "This translation makes slight changes in the chapter divisions and sequence of chapter fragments." In addition to the text, this volume includes a bibliography and a chronology of the author's life.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The Trial was both the best and worst book that I have ever read.
Michael Perine
The evolution of the antipathy may emerge with time and eventually result in the apex of condemnation by the very social world in which one lives.
Fredrik Nath
The Trial The Trial by Franz Kafka is one of the greatest marks in the world literature.
Silvio Saidemberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By telefunken on November 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Well, I've just finished reading The Trial for the sixth, maybe even eighth time, and as usual my brain is buzzing with all the unanswered questions and unspoken quandaries that this book embeds in the reader's mind.
An aside - this is the first time I have read this particular translation, having read the Muir's work before. Perhaps this translation is a bit livelier, and the chapters, or sequences, are grouped a bit differently, but the general experience of reading and digesting this book was much the same as with the Muir's version. One caution, if you are a first time reader do not read the introduction first. The author gives away much too much of the story and ending in the introduction.
Now, back to the book itself. As "they" say, the mark of a true classic is that you can reread the book several times and always find it fresh. This is most certainly the case with The Trial. I always struggle with the question of K.'s innocence. The reader is told, unequivocally, that the Law is attracted to guilt. Is this an illustration of the unreasoning, monolithic madness that
so often surrounds totalitarian states, or is Kafka tellling
the reader indirectly that K. is guilty? I think most readers,
especially me, want to like and identify with the central
protagonist of a novel, but on this particular rereading
I noticed that K. is really a pretty nasty character. He is
arrogant beyond belief, selfish, treats women and most everyone
else as objects, and is even potentially violent. He alienates
and insults people who have the desire and the means to help him
navigate the formalities and uncertainties of his arrest and
trial.
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114 of 126 people found the following review helpful By David Scott Goen on June 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
I giving the book 5 stars, because it's a really good read. Not having read any other translation, I must take other reviewer's word that it compares well. Read the other reviews, they are correct about this books quality.
Now, here's why I am mad. I read the introduction. Then I read the translator's notes. The translator is quite full of himself and his cleverness. Thus he points out the sections where he was particularly clever. In doing so, he gives away the plot, the ending of the novel, and why we should think about it the way he translated it, and not trust earlier transactions.
This should have been an afterward, not before the text. I reviewed the plot, including the ending, before reading the text. This somewhat ruined the experience for me. Skip the translator's notes, and you'll have a fine edition of Kafka's influntial novel.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Charles Pinney on April 17, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kafkaesque: Impenetrably oppresive or nightmarish, as in the fiction of Franz Kafka.
Indeed, "The Trial" is the epitome of this adjective used to describe the haunting novels of Franz Kafka.
Breon Mitchell's translation is fantastic as it expands and clarifies the first version by the Muirs. A lengthy translators preface is included, written by Mitchell, explaining the reasoning for this new translation based on the German definitive edition. Various examples of the text (in German) are also used in the explanations of the hows and whys.
On to the story itself. Josef K. awakens one more to find that he's been arrested. He doesn't know why and is never told. His daily life is allowed to go on over the course of the year the novel takes place, while trying to understand what is happening. Throughout this process Josef begins to sink further into paranoia and guilt, with the fate of his life in the balance....
This is a deep and dense novel, with various interpretations. It's scary to realize that this could actually happen (perhaps not on this scale) and that's one of things Kafka excels at. Taking the everyday mundane and catapulting it into the realm of the absurd and nightmarish..
The leftover fragments of "The Trial" are also included after the story, adding further insight into this tragic story. It's also worth it to pick up the Muir's translation, to see the differences, and to have the original english version to keep.
A must read.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Orson Welles on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have two problems with the Breon Mitchell translation. First, the subtitle "Based on the Restored Text" is misleading in suggesting that the prior edition was somehow faulty. One German critic argued way back in 1957 that the Cathedral chapter with the famous "Before the Law" story (Kafka had previously published it as a short story) should be moved from the second to last chapter where Max Brod, Kafka's editor, put it and put just before the Painter chapter. The order of the chapters has always been controversial because Kafka did not leave a table of contents behind when he died. There is nothing to be restored since the original order will always be unknown. Brod's order has stuck, and this edition does not alter Brod's order at all and includes the same fragments he did and in the same order. There is no difference between the text of this translation and the text of the earlier translation by the Muirs.
Second, it is to be expected that a new translation of a famous work of literature like The Trial will trumpet its superiority over any previous translation, and translator Breon Mitchell does just that in his introduction to the new edition. In his introduction, he finds various fault with the earlier translation of The Trial by the Muirs. The Trial But similar kinds of faults may be found in Mitchell's less readable translation. For example, in "The Painter" section, Mitchell mistranslates the German word "Erklärung," which means "affidavit," as "certificate." Certificate in German is "Zeugnis" or "Bescheinigung." The Muirs give "affidavit of your innocence"; Mitchell gives "certificate of your innocence.
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The Trial: A New Translation Based on the Restored Text (The Schocken Kafka Library)
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