Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Trial by Franz Kafka (Montellier – Mairowitz)

The Trial takes place in a bizarre, impersonal, bureaucratic society where Joseph K, a bank clerk, is arrested for a crime that didn't take place. While he searches for answers as to where his trial is going to be held, no one seems to want to tell him. The authorities in Kafka’s cleverly created world are quick to arrest and sentence but have no particular interest in the accused’s defense.

Metropolis, 1984, A Clockwork Orange and Brazil have all explored similar themes, and after reading The Trial, I see where these frightening landscapes originated.

According to The Trial’s jacket blurb, artist Chanta Montellier, is one of France’s leading graphic artists and it’s easy to see why. She constructs magnificent nineteenth century interiors in vivid detail and then quietly blends them into a mixture of 1940’s film noir and a nightmarish gothic world. I thought it was a nice touch that Kafka’s likeness served as Montellier’s interpretation of Joseph K.

Writer David Zane Mairowitz is a well-renowned author and playwright. His bio states he previously wrote Introducing Kafka with Robert Crumb (that’s gotta be a great combination). His use of exclamation points and question marks are perfectly used to emphasize the citizens’ confusion in the totalitarian state.

I may never have read this classic piece of literature if it weren't for the graphic novel adaptation. The Trial is a great book for fans and for slouches like me who have just discovered this acclaimed novelist and short story writer. I’ll be reading more of Kafka’s work, like The Metamorphosis and The Castle.

On a similar note, check out Scott D. Parker's site. He has a review of Coward (Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips) plus a short history of graphic novels.

6 comments:

Clare2e said...

I checked out Parker's site and the comments. I love the graphic novel reviews you've been doing, and now I can't wait for the Mammoth review either!

Charles Gramlich said...

I might have a look at this. After Metamorphosis, which I think is an absolutely terribly written and meaningless book, I've avoide Kafka like the plague.

Scott Parker said...

For as many classic mystery and crime fiction authors and books I need to read, I also realize that I need to broaden my scope a bit to include classic authors. Kafka's on my list. I have Metamorphosis on my shelf in the nice, slim Dover editions that were published ten years ago. I plan to get to it but there's a problem. Time. Sheesh. There ain't enough of it.

To pick up on what Charles wrote, I don't have a problem with classic literature being translated into a different medium. I think the story will emerge no matter the medium.

@Clare2e
Thanks for stopping by my site. I think (although I'm not certain) that my forthcoming Tuesday review will also be a graphic novel.

David Cranmer said...

Thanks Clare! I'm glad you are enjoying them. I hope to have the Mammoth review posted next week.

Charles, Kafka had ordered his best friend to destroy his stuff, and it was after his death that the majority of his books were pieced together and released. That may have a lot to do with it, and I might find myself agreeing with you on his other novels. I did like that The Trial had an ending... it seems a lot of these style books kind of go off the deep end and it quickly becomes apparent that the writer had no idea where to go with it.

Scott, I know what you mean by not having enough time. Balancing time wisely has become an art form. I try to visit everyone's blogs and write down recommended titles, and if I calculated correctly, I have enough books to read until 2058!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I vaguely remember Anthony Perkins in a film. Or am I in a fog?

David Cranmer said...

Patti, good memory. This is from Wikipedia: In the 1962 Orson Welles movie adaptation of The Trial, Josef K. is played by Anthony Perkins. Kyle MacLachlan portrays him in the 1993 version.

Martin Scorsese's 1985 film After Hours is a re-imagining of the Trial.

Interesting. I had no idea. Thanks!