(P)2004 Recorded Books
I'm a Kafka fan, and I read The Castle before hearing the audiobook. This is definitely not for everyone -- long, rambling, seemingly without direction. Many of the passages feel more like a philosophy treatise than a story. It is an unfinished novel, literally ending in the middle of a scene, which leaves one very unsatisfied.
The narration is excellent, although a Kafka novel isn't something you can breeze through -- there are times when you need to stop and let a particular sentence sink in. In many ways I preferred to read the actual book, and take my time with it. This is a book that makes you work -- there are more questions than answers, and no real solutions. Like trudging through snow, it can be both wearying and exhilarating (not to mention deep.)
Before he died, Kafka told his friends how he intended The Castle to end, and that information would have been very helpful to include here. I also recommend The Trial as a much more accessible Kafka novel, which deals with many of the same themes (the individual struggle against a frustrating and obscure bureaucracy).
This is simply amazing. I couldn't wait to get back to it in my 4 hour drives. Couldn't wait! The one thing that may help one get it is that the norman bates-like voice of the landlady and other female parts is in fact exactly faithful to the text. I couldn't recommend this more highly and I commend the reader and producers!!!
Listening to the book really brought back memories of 2 years that I lived in Germany. Essentially the book is about people who are quite intelligent when it comes to rationalizing, reasoning, and engineering, but the same people lack willpower, ummph or maybe just fortitude to go outside of the narrow parameters of the rulebooks and beaurocracies that keep them imprisoned. And the culture disdains anyone who undermines the rules and abhores anyone who does not properly respect the strict rules of the culture. The people have no capability to think outside of the box and adapt. Kafka's message was clear, I believe he wrote the book in the 1920's before the German's freely elected Adolf Hitler. If you want a glimpse into the muddled affairs of the still prevalent German political structure, listen to this book.
This book is a classic, for good reason. It is classic Kafka, with the whole mystic, conspiracy, "what the f''' is going on?" kind of thing that make us love his work. I think parts of it is actually better than the trial, but in the last third of it, there are so many endless monologues and discriptions of how impossible the system and everybody is. It really seems that Kafka is going crazy and paranoid where he sits in his loft writing. And off course, it is not finished, which is one of the things this book is really famous for. The way this book ends is really cool.
Of all the audio-books I have listened to, this one is probably the one of which I still have the most and best mental pictures, and I read it 6 months ago.
The narrator is great, sometimes he talks a bit too fast, but reading Kafka out loud is probably one of the hardest jobs in the world (alongside mr. Obama's), and this considering, he does a perfect job. His voice is also incredible to the atmosphere of the book.
Sometimes you have to be in the right mood to appreciate the classics. When compared to Kafka's other stories, The Castle is sort of a positive-thinking story of the hero's encounter with the mysterious bureaucracy (which surrounds all of us). I had read it before and enjoyed it, but this time I found it rolling-in-the-aisles funny. If you think about it, how certain are you about the structure of the world that surrounds you? Who really controls it, if anyone? Kafka is one of the highest of the high authors, and this is one of his best books.
I found the narration to be very good. Kafka is, as ever, wonderfully clever, funny and *unique*. But it is hard to keep up with sometimes. This audiobook surpassed my expectations. Excellent!
I can't remark on the quality of the translation that another reviewer has complained about. I have read the standard english version and this seems to be the same.
The reader is too impulsive, too emphatic, too weirdly singsong for this book. All the narration and conversations come out very energetic. It's like listening to a Frenchman speaking English with constant high nasal ending to every sentence. Hard to concentrate on the text.
For example, where K. has a few words with the landlord after refusing to be examined by Momus, the two, K. and the landlord, go at it quite heatedly, when the context suggests that neither had any strong interest in the other and was just bantering.
But this is much better than, at least, the other reading by Jeffrey Howard, who screeches away even more badly.
Both readings are of the new translation, which is not as good as the first translation by Edwin Muir.
My two star score is just on the reading.
I have listened to many, many audio books, and this one is the most disappointing.
I picked it up based on a number of the reviews chiming that it was humorous and gripping. How far from the truth that was.
I listened to the first part and thought that it must get better in the second part. Again, I was wrong. Hour after hour, I thought about stopping and listen to something that had some form of plot, but I figured the closer I got, I would sure miss something and regret it later.
Once it ended, I felt totally ripped off. It didn't really end with any sort of conclusion, it just ended as if it was mid sentence.
Seriously, save your time.
This is the most frustrating book I have ever listened to. I got the audio version because I really like this narrator. In the end, I just let the beautiful tones of the voice and words wash over me. Very tangled and strange story. Beautifully read though. Horrible end to an excrutiating and baffling story. I think Kafka is making a good point but causes the reader much suffering in so doing. Like walking in marshmallow.
"And what's the point?!"
If you're like me, then you'll be tortured with all the pointless, random, incoherent, and sometimes enjoyable, bits of unfinished madness which makes up this work... It was a weird experience... Something to be endured!
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