The first year of mandatory classes of German in Dutch education, I was a still a youthful bragger. I was thirteen at the time, and basically thought I could take on anything. So when we had to make our reading lists – yes, literature was part of the language course – I aimed high and put Kafka’s The Trial on it. In German, obviously. When my teacher tried to tell me that this book was maybe a bit too difficult to start with, and actually even the students that were 3-4 years older than I was didn’t normally pick it for their lists, of course I did not listen. So, I got the book out of the school library, and started reading.
I think I never got further than the first page. The story, the German language, it was all a bit too much. But, in the back of my mind, this stuck with me. At least, that I found out when I recently saw The Complete Novels of Kafka in the book store. And this time, more than 2 decades later, I am finally reading it. It’s still a bit of a struggle, because it is a bit long-winded, but at least I seem to be getting the point this time around. And that long-windedness seems to be intentional, to sketch the struggles of K in his trial.