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The Trial by Franz Kafka

I got about halfway through this book and thought “I don’t even know what this protagonist is going to trial about… maybe I missed something”. So I asked ChatGPT what he had been arrested for. ChatGPT said that the book never reveals the reason he is facing trial.

When I understood this I started to find the book hilarious in its absurdity. It made me laugh out loud dozens of times.

It seemed like from the very beginning the book was absurd. It painted the legal system as some incomprehensible bureaucracy that was impossible to negotiate.

It started to grow more absurd towards the end as the main-character (K) desperately tried to get acquitted, or at least understand why he was facing trial. This impetus to avoid being found guilty is what drove the story forward… it’s why he met with other characters such as:

  • A sickly old lawyer who seemed to have a cult-leader-like control over his other client (the merchant)
  • A painter who offered to talk to judges he painted (but wanted K to buy some of his paintings in return)
  • A priest who told a story to help K understand the law… but one is left with the impression that the law is like God himself

In the end the law caught up with K and he met an unfortunate end. One feels sorry for him after all he has been through coming to such an end. But it is hilarious all the same.

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