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The Trial: A Graphic Novel

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"Someone must have been slandering Joseph K, because one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was suddenly arrested." The Trial is a graphic adaptation of Franz Kafka's famous novel, illustrated by one of France's leading graphic artists, Chantal Montellier. Montellier brilliantly captures both the menace and the humor of Kafka's utterly unique masterwork. This "Someone must have been slandering Joseph K, because one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was suddenly arrested." The Trial is a graphic adaptation of Franz Kafka's famous novel, illustrated by one of France's leading graphic artists, Chantal Montellier. Montellier brilliantly captures both the menace and the humor of Kafka's utterly unique masterwork. This darkly humorous tale follows Joseph K, who is arrested one morning for unexplained reasons and forced to struggle against an absurd judicial process. K finds himself thrown from one disorientating encounter to the next as he becomes increasingly desperate to prove his innocence in the face of unknown charges. In its stark portrayal of an authoritarian bureaucracy trampling over the lives of its estranged citizens, The Trial is as relevant today as ever.


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"Someone must have been slandering Joseph K, because one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was suddenly arrested." The Trial is a graphic adaptation of Franz Kafka's famous novel, illustrated by one of France's leading graphic artists, Chantal Montellier. Montellier brilliantly captures both the menace and the humor of Kafka's utterly unique masterwork. This "Someone must have been slandering Joseph K, because one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was suddenly arrested." The Trial is a graphic adaptation of Franz Kafka's famous novel, illustrated by one of France's leading graphic artists, Chantal Montellier. Montellier brilliantly captures both the menace and the humor of Kafka's utterly unique masterwork. This darkly humorous tale follows Joseph K, who is arrested one morning for unexplained reasons and forced to struggle against an absurd judicial process. K finds himself thrown from one disorientating encounter to the next as he becomes increasingly desperate to prove his innocence in the face of unknown charges. In its stark portrayal of an authoritarian bureaucracy trampling over the lives of its estranged citizens, The Trial is as relevant today as ever.

30 review for The Trial: A Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Licha

    Someone must have been slandering Joseph K. because one morning without having done anything wrong, he was suddenly arrested. And with that wonderful line, so starts this book. And then I was completely lost. I had no idea what this story was about. It all flew right over my head. And why did the MC have that same deadpan face as on the cover throughout the whole book? It never changed, no matter what was going on in the scene. Not for me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kerfe

    My first impression of this graphic novel version of "The Trial" was positive--but then I went back and re-read Kafka's book. Certainly the sense of ominousness comes across in Montellier's drawings, but they are too heavy-handed and lack the subtleness of the layers in the original. I felt especially that Joseph K was way too solid and overbearing. The illustrations did not at all convey the way he fades gradually out his his life and into a state of total passive uncertainty. There are also My first impression of this graphic novel version of "The Trial" was positive--but then I went back and re-read Kafka's book. Certainly the sense of ominousness comes across in Montellier's drawings, but they are too heavy-handed and lack the subtleness of the layers in the original. I felt especially that Joseph K was way too solid and overbearing. The illustrations did not at all convey the way he fades gradually out his his life and into a state of total passive uncertainty. There are also too many classic comic book touches that don't at all illuminate Kafka's words or story. Were this a totally original work it would have more merit. But it is a distorted and inferior reflection of the book Franz Kafka wrote. Read the original.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Forsythe

    I’ve come to the conclusion that graphic adaptations of books, even famous books, just shouldn’t be read unless you’ve read the original. They make great accompaniments, but never seem to stand on their own. This one is no different. It has a distinct style and you get a sense of the story, but it doesn’t really give you enough meat to truly understand the it. As something I picked up on a whim, while sitting in a coffee shop, it did the job of keeping me from being bored and I don’t regret I’ve come to the conclusion that graphic adaptations of books, even famous books, just shouldn’t be read unless you’ve read the original. They make great accompaniments, but never seem to stand on their own. This one is no different. It has a distinct style and you get a sense of the story, but it doesn’t really give you enough meat to truly understand the it. As something I picked up on a whim, while sitting in a coffee shop, it did the job of keeping me from being bored and I don’t regret reading it, but I can’t say it really impressed me much.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Maas

    Just a great expression of a great work It's difficult to add anything to Kafka, but David Zane Mairowitz finds a way. Great art, and you feel how Joseph K feels. I also liked how the main character was modeled after Kafka himself. Just incredible!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    Illustrated in a style much (and openly) influenced by R. Crumb, this has a good deal more visible nipples than I remember there being in the Muir translation. Not having read the original German, I can't say whether this is simply an editorial choice, or mere pandering.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Catalin Negru

    Target audience: Common people, anyone passionate about the absurd fiction genre. About the author: According to Wikipedia, Franz Kafka was a German-language writer of novels and short stories who is widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work, which fuses elements of realism and the fantastic, typically features isolated protagonists faced by bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible social-bureaucratic powers, and has been interpreted as Target audience: Common people, anyone passionate about the absurd fiction genre. About the author: According to Wikipedia, Franz Kafka was a German-language writer of novels and short stories who is widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work, which fuses elements of realism and the fantastic, typically features isolated protagonists faced by bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible social-bureaucratic powers, and has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety, guilt, and absurdity. His best known works include "Die Verwandlung" ("The Metamorphosis"), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle). Structure of the book: The novel has 216 pages and it is divided into 10 chapters. Overview / Plot summary: The Trial is the story of a man by the name of Josef K. who has been charged of a crime by the invisible court which he has definitely not committed. The novel goes on to show how K tries to fight for justice and in the end is killed without being proven innocent. There are, broadly speaking, too ways of approaching The Trial as a novel: either by assuming that the events and characters described are projections of K.’s mind, or that everything is as described and external to K. Most readings will fall into one of these two camps, the former being a smaller, more intimate portrait of a mind coming apart, and the latter a larger, more political reading. Both approaches offer fertile ground for discussion and that the novel can be read in various different ways only adds to its sustained appeal. The Trial can be interpreted in many ways. It can easily be read as a prophecy or a brilliant evocation of the totalitarian and authoritarian police states that scarred the 20th century, before they had even come to prominence. The charge against K is not mentioned at all during the whole narrative. Moreover, the author shows through the example of the businessman Block, whose case had been going on for five years, how he was now a mere shadow of his former self and now was only concerned about his case which according to Titorelli, the Painter, would never end in absolute justice and freedom. Block even stays like a slave in the house of his lawyer, who calls for him at odd hours and who treats him like a worm. K did not want the service of such a lawyer and to obey the system and ultimately this is why he meets his end in an abandoned quarry. From another point of view, The Trial might be a mockery of the Austrian Hungary bureaucratic system or the judicial system in general. Kafka was trained as a lawyer. The novel is suffocating thanks to the vivid descriptions and master storytelling. The heat felt in the painter Titorelli’s studio, for example, is not only felt by K but also by us the readers as well as those readers who are aware of the faulty system of justice even in our own present democratic times. The Trial gives a glimpse of the futility of justice in the modern world where everything is like a riddle with many interpretations, just like the riddle told by the prison priest to K in the novel, about the door keeper. The novel shows how justice can be manipulated and how a case can go on for years and years while the lawyers and judges make shady businesses. According to Titorelli, perfect justice is a legend while Block states that a great lawyer is never found (as in honest). Leni is another character in the novel who fascinates. She is the nurse of K’s lawyer is madly in love with K because she finds all condemned men very attractive. In fact, K’s senile lawyer even gives K a detailed description about how people who are involved in a case seem to the judges to also look very attractive, which disgusts K. Overall, Franz Kafka brings out truth in this work which ignites one to think about the past, present and future of one’s government and especially ones justice system. He aids us to take a long and careful look at our bureaucracy and how will the future define its justice system. Will justice be equal and available to all, or will all citizens who approach justice be suffocated the way K was suffocated when he entered the attic filled with court offices? Quote: If he stayed at home and carried on with his normal life he would be a thousand times superior to these people and could get any of them out of his way just with a kick. Strong points: Kafka was a master of the absurd, and The Trial is the masterpiece. There is no wonder that Kafka's writing has inspired the term "Kafkaesque", used to describe concepts and situations reminiscent of his work. Examples include instances in which bureaucracies overpower people, often in a surreal, nightmarish milieu which evokes feelings of senselessness, disorientation, and helplessness. Characters in a Kafkaesque setting often lack a clear course of action to escape a labyrinthine situation. Kafkaesque elements often appear in existential works, but the term has transcended the literary realm to apply to real-life occurrences and situations that are incomprehensibly complex, bizarre, or illogical. Numerous films and television works have been described as Kafkaesque, and the style is particularly prominent in dystopian science fiction. Weak points: If you like the absurd, then this is the book to read. I liked to book. After I read this book I realized I do not like the genre. The entire time I was tormented by this annoying feeling “Just tell me what he is accused of!!!!!” Like an itchiness I had to scratch. I personally like stories with a clear end, preferably with people who live happily ever after; so, this is why I gave it 4 stars. _______________ ★★★ Follow us on Goodreads ★★★ Visit our website www.reasonandreligion.org

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nazish

    The one thing that is most profound about Kafkas books is that they make you feel uncomfortable. They make you shift in your seat uneasily while thoughts in your brain assume a disagreeing position. While I read the original text of the Trial last year, I was slightly dazed by the gloom the book offered. I didn't want to go in, afraid it would permanently put a damper on my existential crisis or whatever the dark phase of my life I was enduring at that time. I also felt guilty for not having the The one thing that is most profound about Kafkas books is that they make you feel uncomfortable. They make you shift in your seat uneasily while thoughts in your brain assume a disagreeing position. While I read the original text of the Trial last year, I was slightly dazed by the gloom the book offered. I didn't want to go in, afraid it would permanently put a damper on my existential crisis or whatever the dark phase of my life I was enduring at that time. I also felt guilty for not having the guts to agree to what Kafka was alluding to all along his book. Or maybe I just wanted some cheery doodle daddle to escape reality. Whatever it was that kept me from admiring the original work, I decided to give it's graphic novel a chance to put my conscience at rest. Though the graphic style and the illustrations were unimpressive, the book offered a nice recap and helped me to judge a lot of things on my own with minimal text through dark and murky images. I think the book should be given a chance if you're a die heart Kafka fan.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wm

    This is less a two-star review than an "It was okay" review. The work itself is fine, but I didn't find the interpretation of the Trial to be all that interesting nor did the interpretation as graphic novel really push things in a direction that worked for me. It is mundane in it's surrealism. Now, Chantal Montellier does some excellent work here, but the emphasis is very much on a psycho-sexual and biographical reading of the Trial. Lovers of the graphic novel form might really enjoy it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I wasn't blown away, but I think it was because I was having a hard time processing words and images simultaneously. You would think it would be easier, but I found myself so drawn to the words that I kind of skipped over the images most of the time. I think that a lot of the story in the Trial was in the pictures so I think I missed out on a lot.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nojood Alsudairi

    If this book were a representetive of Kafka's work, then I would never want to read any of his books. So depressing! So gloomy. As if life is not hard enough for the reader. And these weird relationships with women. How rediculing! How humiliating! Thank you Thuraya for showing me that not only Arab writiers have this attitude towards life and women.

  11. 5 out of 5

    James

    The story text was a good adaptation but the artwork was bit too grotesque and overblown. A nice attempt on a difficult to illustrate book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    StrictlySequential

    The star of this mind-bender is Chantal Montellier who mesmerized me with an eerie, paranoid, and poignant portrayal of such a precarious parable; she made a black story brilliant with only its visible shades from her pencil and ink .Kafka is ideal to adapt if you want to inject acid trip panels throughout and this book took full advantage of the bizarre so don't expect an explanation for all you see. Avoid if you have delicate sensibilities.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    An interesting way into this classic novella, with some pretty compelling visuals. I did feel afterwards, though, that I should now read the original, if only for comparison sake.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Maas

    Great adaptation !

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kellie Wagner

    I'm using graphic novels as a part of an independent reading goal with my freshmen. I won't recommend they read this one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Web Webster

    No more understandable as a graphic novel than it is a real novel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nida Fidanboy

    needs to be reread to be understood better, it requires deep philosophical knowledge too.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Geekfork

    Found myself going "Whuh? Huh?" a lot of the time. I found the design panels and dialogue made it hard for me to follow the actual story. Or maybe I'm just not smart enough to get Kafka.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    OK, I will tell the truth here. I was not looking forward to this book. But it was on my list (the all powerful list) and so I picked it up. And was immediately entranced. The Trial by Franz Kafka is so relevant to the here and now, it is astounding that it was written about 90 years ago. It tells the story of Joseph K., who wakes up one morning to find some officials in his apartment, there to arrest him. What authority they have to arrest him is not known...what charges he is being arrested OK, I will tell the truth here. I was not looking forward to this book. But it was on my list (the all powerful list) and so I picked it up. And was immediately entranced. The Trial by Franz Kafka is so relevant to the here and now, it is astounding that it was written about 90 years ago. It tells the story of Joseph K., who wakes up one morning to find some officials in his apartment, there to arrest him. What authority they have to arrest him is not known...what charges he is being arrested under they know not, they merely know that they have the function to arrest him, and that the court the serve does not arrest men that do not deserve to be arrested. Wow! Sound a little familiar? That Kafka, a Czech born and German educated writer could see this unnamed judicial, national authority is amazing. But I guess totalitarianism has no time or place. But we also wonder if this is all in Joseph K's mind, if the world really is so difficult to handle...there are hints that his world is only of his own making, a part of Kafka's existentialism. I prefer to read it more dystopian the existential. A time when an unnamed authority can decide whether a man is guilty or innocent, not by the merits of his case, but by the whim, or need, of that authority to have guilt or innocence pronounced. Either way, The Trial is a book that is much more accessible than I had thought, in fact very accessible. It speaks to modern life, as it must have spoken to Kafka in his day. And it is a piece that speaks out against authority, that speaks to the individual railing against the machinery of the bureaucrat. It is a voice of the individual against the government and the corporate. It is the voice of freedom against death.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ploni Almoni

    Graphic novel. Interesting.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Grant

    Prepare to be disappointed after an excellent introduction by Robert Collins. Mairowitz and Montellier's adaptation reminds me a little of what might happen if Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame decided to skew The Trial. The drawings are a mix of the detailed and unfinished (not a reference to Kafka's work on the whole, haha). Certain facial expressions are repeated over and over, which suggests Montellier's tendency to cut and paste, so things often look disproportional. A 'life and Prepare to be disappointed after an excellent introduction by Robert Collins. Mairowitz and Montellier's adaptation reminds me a little of what might happen if Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame decided to skew The Trial. The drawings are a mix of the detailed and unfinished (not a reference to Kafka's work on the whole, haha). Certain facial expressions are repeated over and over, which suggests Montellier's tendency to cut and paste, so things often look disproportional. A 'life and death' skeleton appears on probably 2/3 of the pages as some kind of jesting/jeering conscience, which is an attempt to make Kafka's novel a more visual experience. However, the humor in the novel is not as obvious as some of Kafka's other stories and can't really be replicated in this format. I realize Kafka wished no visual representation of the 'insect' in "The Metamorphosis," but Peter Kuper did a much better job with that graphic adaptation. Mairowitz's translation substitutes Kafka/Joseph K's paranoid presumptions with an overuse of fragmented "comical" yelling with all characters, and the whole thing just becomes strange and awkward, but not much like the strange and awkward scenario that The Trial's text actually evokes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I guess I was in a completely different frame of mind when reading this, about 8 or so years after encountering Kafka's original. I distinctly remember how much it annoyed and frustrated me. Only later it dawned on me that his genius consisted of exactly that: making you feel just as confused and out of place as his characters. This rendition is a very good, eminently readable one. The austere black and white graphics seem to accentuate many shades of gray in his universe, whereas the tiny I guess I was in a completely different frame of mind when reading this, about 8 or so years after encountering Kafka's original. I distinctly remember how much it annoyed and frustrated me. Only later it dawned on me that his genius consisted of exactly that: making you feel just as confused and out of place as his characters. This rendition is a very good, eminently readable one. The austere black and white graphics seem to accentuate many shades of gray in his universe, whereas the tiny skeleton featured throughout the pages is simply a constant reminder of everyone's own mortality. Great read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Abraham Thunderwolf

    This comic perturbed me because it was really disjointed, as if the rhythim was off. What the fuck, who is at fault here, the artist, the writer, Kafka himself FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE?! Damn you, Kafka! What does it all mean? That life is senseless and that no matter what you do you get your head cut off by some, but you might get some on the way out, so relax? I don't think a shirt that says, "Kafka says... relax," in huge block letter would go over so well. Maybe a shirt that says, "Kafka This comic perturbed me because it was really disjointed, as if the rhythim was off. What the fuck, who is at fault here, the artist, the writer, Kafka himself FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE?! Damn you, Kafka! What does it all mean? That life is senseless and that no matter what you do you get your head cut off by some, but you might get some on the way out, so relax? I don't think a shirt that says, "Kafka says... relax," in huge block letter would go over so well. Maybe a shirt that says, "Kafka says... despair." Gah.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    I wish this book couldve change things but everyhing is still the same and its so sad. It was written a century ago, but all these things still happen. Also, i dont really like Kafka's women. I dont know why all women in this book are sexual objects. It's a very dark book, showing everybody is a part of this sick system and they're all evil. I'm really happy to have read this, i will read more Kafka in the future.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason Furman

    A well drawn graphic novel of The Trial is a work of art in its own right, not simply a classic comic books version of the novel itself. It is well drawn, has interesting repetitive imagery (like clocks and skeletons), and makes you see the story in a new way. At the same time, it sticks closely to the general contours of the text but if anything seems even more dark and perhaps even more confusing as well. My biggest complaint would be that it loses much of the humor of the original.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Colm

    An interesting read with fascinating art that really draws the eye. I like that the artist chose to illustrate Joseph K as Kafka himself and her playing with perspective does wonders in terms of capturing Kafka's strangeness and his sudden shifts of scene in his writing. The introductory and final notes on Kafka's life also bookend the story well, providing insight into the author's life. This makes me fascinated to move onto the novel proper and see how it reads in full prosaic delivery.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    I've been at a standstill in Kafka's official "Trial", so I thought I'd read a graphic novel adaptation of it. It was kind of weird; and while I liked the pace of it, and the art, it seemed harder to follow than the original. Maybe it would have made more sense to me if I'd read the entire novel before reading an adaptation.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bjørn André Haugland

    Too much personal freedom taken by the artist in my opinion. One could easily forget that the book it is based on was written at a time where the attitude towards sex was much more conservative than we have now. Too much suggestive imagery that one would be hard pressed to find in the book, the graphic novel goes overboard.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    This was an entertaining graphic novel adaptation of Kafka's famous story. I loved the dark and surreal illustrations.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Peckles

    This is a comic book of Kafka's Trial book. I really liked it.The drawings are good but they are black and white. Perhaps it is a better choice than colourful ones because that the book is about a story in past.

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