This is the first writing by Kafka I’ve read that I haven’t been impressed by. And unlike the Trial, when they say it is unfinished, they really mean unfinished, like it cuts off in the middle of a sentence. I don’t understand why this was published, or why people continue to read it today.
The story is about ‘K’, who arrives in a nameless town, and at the center of this town is a ‘the castle’ which may or may not be an actual castle, but contains offices and officials who may or may not have influence over people in the town. K wants to get into the castle for a reason we never learn, and makes nearly zero progress toward this goal for the entirety of the writing.
I think the point of it was the paranoia and confusion of impenetrable bureaucracy, but I’m not totally sure. Similar to The Trial (which also features a character called ‘K’) K is overwhelmed at every step by incomprehensible rules, but unlike the Trial, in which he is trying to find out what he’s been accused of, or at least be done with his trial, in the Castle we have no idea what his objective is other than ‘get to the castle.’ We have no idea who he is or where he came from, what was his life before.
The only part of the book that I really liked was when the story of Frieda’s father trying to remove what he sees as a ‘black mark’ on his daughter because she did not meet an official who asked her out for a drink. After she does this, every wrong thing that happens to the family, he perceives as being because the officials have them on some kind of the list. He expends all his energy trying to contact these officials in the castle (which he, like K, cannot get into) and spends all his money trying to bribe them, all when they have not even confirmed that the family has any black mark at all.
In the end, I wouldn’t recommend it. There was too many long, seemingly meaningless conversations, and not enough of K being foiled to make it as claustrophobic as The Trial was. Mostly I was just bored.
I sent The Observer on it’s first journey to an agency. They give a 12 week window for response. So, now to try not to think about it for the next months…
Rejections are easier and easier to deal with, it’s the waiting that is hard. Because the longer they take, the more hopeful you become. Then the inevitable no is all the more painful when it finally arrives. Though, now that I’ve sent out my own share of rejections at Lucent Dreaming, I know that sometimes they just take a while to get to, and read, and think about. There’s just no getting around that wait time, is there? Unless you’re a really awesome place like Clarkesworld, then it’s only a few days or less.
It really is terrible, though… the waiting… the waiting… the torment of hope…
I’m still flipping slowly through the dictionary, and am still, as you see, in the A’s. I came across another one I like quite a bit, and will probably use:
Amaranth: A flower that never fades,
Which leads to Amaranthine: Undying.
Those words are both ear-catching. I love the shape and sound of them.
Words are like finely crafted little puzzle pieces that fit with each-other in a myriad of ways. Each new piece you add to your pile expands the pictures you can create..
I started reading it… and am wondering why I never did this before. It’s like walking through a treasure-filled cavern and snatching up any glinting piece that pulls my eye. So many words! I wish I had a randomized version of the dictionary so that all my new words wouldn’t start with A, but here are a few I never knew, and that I especially like:
ab·at·toir (1820) : SLAUGHTERHOUSE
abe·ce·dar·i·an : one learning the rudiments of something (as the alphabet) abecedarian adj (1665) 1 a : of or relating to the alphabet b : alphabetically arranged 2 : RUDIMENTARY
abu·lia (ca. 1864) : abnormal lack of ability to act or to make decisions — abu·lic \-lik\ adj
ace·dia (1607) : APATHY, BOREDOM
And I’m only up to ‘ac’ 😮
What other discoveries await me?
The more responsibilities, and worries, and stress, and plans and work you have going on, the less free space you have in your head for creative thought. It becomes a depressing trap. The spirit is withered by the dull grind of daily life. You can’t think about an alien world or a mystical dragon because you’re thinking about paying your taxes or taking out the trash or how to pay the mortgage or your appointment with the doctor or your promotion or how messy the house is or how to get the car repaired or the family reunion or your kid’s grades or fixing the ceiling fan or cleaning the bathroom or washing the dishes or doing the laundry or taking the cat to the vet or a million other things that can’t be avoided and take up all the space your mind has to breathe.
Sometimes I wonder how people manage to be creative without being slovenly antisocial hermits…
maybe they don’t….
What if instead of working 5 days, then having two days off, we worked five years, then had two years off? Or maybe, five lives then two lives of luxury. I hope this is my friday life, and I’m reborn rich or powerful and can spend all my time reading, thinking, and creating. Though if I were born rich or powerful, I’d probably not appreciate it, and just spend my time trying to get more rich and powerful…
I’m still reading 1Q84. It is very long. About 1200 pages long. And I wonder, how many of these words are really necessary? He likes to describe the preparation of food, and describe jazz and classical music, and describe all kinds of things the characters are doing or seeing at a level of detail that seems disproportionate to their relevance to the story. I don’t get bored or tired reading it, but I do notice it. And when I wonder how the book can be so long, I suspect that is a part of the reason…
I suspect that Murakami quite enjoys writing about these things, and just has a very weak willed editor…