© and (P)2007 Naxos AudioBooks Ltd.
I like this reading much better than the other two I have heard (George Guidall and Geoffrey Howard). The sedate, if somewhat mincing, tone seems just right. Rupert Degas does not try to voice-act, which probably couldn't be done anyway. A slow reading, as befits a text that is highly suggestive in almost every sentence. That's on the reading.
As for the book, need I say anything? If you are new to Kafka, this is probably the long novel you are most likely to find interesting. It is focused and well executed in comparison to the others. (Amerika, which is his first novel, seems unfocused because there is no obvious central or abiding motif. The Castle, which is his last, is not exactly well written throughout. Many of its passages may seem flat and boring unless you, the reader, are doing some active part.)
I find that the best way to read Kafka is to read it like some genre piece you read only for the action. Just to find out what happens, never bothering your head about the 'meaning' or anything like that. If the book is not interesting to you at that level, it's just not for you. Why bother when there are other books to suit other tastes?
To me, the most interesting passages in The Trial are Fraulein Burstner, Fraulein Montag, and the first visit to the advocate including Leni.
The least interesting are the opening scenes (the Arrest), the First Hearing, and the Cathedral (including the 'Before the Law' inset).
Finishing this book was a struggle. I kept listening in hopes that some of the mysteries presented in the book would be resolved in an interesting way. Unfortunately, my hopes were rewarded with continued boredom. There was a lot of waiting for the punch-line but very little pay-off in the end.
After listening to the book, I researched its origins and learned that when Kafka died the book was still incomplete. This may explain the overall poor flow of the narrative.
There were a few standout details such as a character known only as "The Thrasher" who refuses to stop his sadistic punishments despite generous bribes. A reoccurring theme deals with the credibility of the officials, judges and lawyers who are working on the trial. The main character is gradually immersed in paranoia as he try to decide who is with him and who is against. Who is two-faced or even three-faced.
This book could have been great if these moments of "fear and loathing" were interconnected in a coherent and timely way. Instead we are just presented with example after example of ominious but indistinct action taken towards the character. There is an interesting allegory towards the end, but overall the stories length and slow build do not justify any of the possible symbolism contained in the plot.
If you are interested in older literature involving crime, trials, suspicion or guilt, you would be better served by listening to "Crime and Punishment" by Doestoevsky.
This is my first Degas. I thought he did a good job. However, the plot was so flat and badly timed (by the writer) that I had trouble being sure just how to rate Degas's performance.
Report Inappropriate Content