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“Reading Kafka’s “The Trial”, especially for the first time, we often experience a blend of precision and obscurity; words, sentences, and single events are clear in themselves, but are linked to each other in ways we cannot always gra

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Introduction

"Reading Kafka's "The Trial", especially for the first time, we often experience a blend of precision and obscurity; words, sentences, and single events are clear in themselves, but are linked to each other in ways we cannot always grasp." The blend of precision and obscurity is one of the most remarkable aspects of the style in which "The Trial" is written. The device is used constantly and consistently throughout the novel, and we assume that it is used like all other stylistic devices, i.e. to throw an aspect of the novel into relief. In an attempt to determine, if possible, what this aspect is, follows a detailed analysis of two paragraphs on pages 159 to 160 that I deem to be characteristic of the blend of precision and obscurity. In the two paragraphs, detail and precision interact with each other to produce a blend. Almost all descriptions are quite in depth, such as the description of the "old woman wrapped in a warm shawl", yet these detailed descriptions are not connected with anything else in the book. ...read more.

Middle

probably only looking at the pictures without reading the text, and eventually has to stop this futile exercise ostensibly because it is too dark. The dream interpretation would also explain the randomness of events, objects, and people. Since the subconscious is left to work unrestricted in dreams, the products can be quite random and utterly impossible to link together or make sense of using logical means. The blend could also be viewed as a method to accentuate the confusion and plunge the reader yet deeper into the obscurity. In the second paragraph, when the candles have been lit, Kafka states that the candles "only made the darkness more intense." If the candles and light are taken to represent precision and the darkness obscurity, then Kafka is clearly showing why he has worked the blend in to the novel. It is impossible to judge anything unless one compares it to something else. It is by contrast that we determine what is what. ...read more.

Conclusion

Kafka, through the device of precision and obscurity, is telling the reader to take a step backwards and view the novel not as a succession of events like other conventional novels, but rather like a picture, where one's eyes and thoughts may rove freely along any lines that they choose. Only then will the whole come into focus. With reference to the last paragraph, I have been guilty of doing exactly what Kafka tells us not to do: i.e. analyzing in detail a small part of the text. Thus any conclusion that I may draw from these paragraphs alone are bound to be erroneous. However, draw a conclusion I will. I believe the blend of obscurity and precision is used to immerse the reader completely into the confusion of the text while at the same time advising the reader to take a step backwards. Given Kafka's rather eccentric sense of humor, I think it is quite possible that he believed pulling the wool over the reader's eyes was uproariously funny, especially when the wool has directions telling how to lift the wool sewn on the inside, where it is too dark to see. ...read more.

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