Great Reading: The Castle by Franz Kafka

OK, next book I finish and did promise in last month’s post to type something about each book I finish now in this newly activated reading stuff thingy! Once again, I remind myself about him lately because I did name The Castle as my fave of his three novels on this blog post linked here. Oh yeah, I did name him as one of my top three authors of all-time late last year in this post linked here too. Very quickly right now I’ll say I did enjoy it so much, I think I will be re-reading all his stories again! So this is hopefully just part one of my Kafka posts?

So let’s start at the beginning: my intro to Kafka was by way of America punk rocker Henry Rollins in the 90’s. Back then Rollins was great source of not just cool music but great books too, he also name dropped and intro Henry Miller to me too which is another one of the other two fave writers. Thanks Rollins, just googling that now: here’s him at it again only a few years ago so gotta link this cool page. As a total random side note: check out some write-ups about Cave’s conversations in Washington, D.C. someone asked about him? Henry from D.C. but doesn’t live there anymore but Nick did say they haven’t seen each for a while but were great friends in the 80’s and 90’s, when he would come to America they would hang out and he would do drugs while Henry worked-out doing push-up and sitting-up etc. Rollins was a fitness nut before it was a thing and very anti-drugs but didn’t seem to mind Cave doing then apparently, funny hey? Anyway somewhere way back then Rollins named Kafka as a very cool writer.

The Castle was originally written German, starting writing it while in what is now know as Czech Republic in 1922. Kafka himself had just traveled to mountain resort of Spindlermühle, see photo below. The Castle was not published in his lifetime but after he died in 1926. What I know about him writing it, he started it in first person but at some point changed it to third person and naming the narrator as simply K.

Kafka (far right) arrived at the mountain resort of Spindlermühle in 1922.

Now I have two English versions of all of his stuff, if you really want to know? Yeah, I know that might be a little overkill! I’ve still got huge hardcover red cloth with gold letters in caps locks saying his name in a big square box which is the one I read first years ago. It’s 925 pages long including the three novels, four short stories, his diaries of 1910-23. These stories are the original English translation by Willa & Edwin Muir of 1930’s, yeah they is a difference but let’s not get hung up on that today, OK? In the 90’s Penguin twentieth century classic published new English translations, the date on my copy is 1997 and translator is J.A. Underwood. This is the one I’ve just finished reading. I think, there is another translation done in the late 2000’s but I’ve not read that one but like I did say let’s not get hung up on all that. More back ground on this novel, if you know nothing about it or him? Debate still rages about if: it’s unfinished or completed because Kafka died of tuberculosis and on his deathbed he instructed friend Max Brod to destroy all of his unpublished works but off course Bord didn’t and instead published everything. It is a pretty well known fact in the year 1922 Franz started writing The Castle on the night of 27 January but by 11 September of the same year told Max he’d stopped writing it, he never returned to it again. To me, the genius of it all is it ends in the middle of a sentence just as someone is about to tell K. something with no full stop it just breaks off to never return unlike this.

Kafka was Jewish writing in German language born 1883 and mainly living in Prague who died in 1924 at the age of 40. Off course, writing all his stuff in between the two world wars. Without giving away too much of The Castle novel I’ll saying this about the story itself: the narrator K. arrives late at night at a village guarded by the castle above them. He’s a land surveyor and wants to just go to sleep at an Inn he’s found because he’s very tried from traveling but can’t because he needs a permit. Then it goes from there, K. is meet with bureaucratic stupidly at every point along his way but he also doing his best or trying to get into The Castle and meet who works inside it the whole time. At the same time he can’t do any land surveying work at all even if he’s hire by them to do that but he’s also been given two assistants to help him do his job. Then befriends people from the village and even get’s engagement to a lady there. So it goes on but I shouldn’t give too much more away? It’s 280 pages long which I enjoined it all very much, finishing it pretty quick for me too. It comes very highly recommend by me but don’t blame me if you hate it, OK?

BTW after finished reading it I did re-watch the Kafka 1991 movie by director Steven Soderbergh and starring Jeremy Irons. It’s far from a bio-pic but more a tribute to the man, I don’t think I’ll type a whole post about it but it was way better than I remember it? It’s more like a 90’s film noir movie using bits and pierces of his stories, maybe a little of his life in a bit of a mash-up or something? Who’s seen that? Who else has read The Castle by Franz Kafka? Want to say something about it? Who now wants to read The Castle by Franz Kafka after reading me gibbering away about it?

My copy front cover looks like this!

Cheers 🙂



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