Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book Review: The Castle by Franz Kafka (Modern Library No. 388)

The first Franz Kafka book i read was Metamorphosis. It's the book where Franz Kafka is popularly known about and a literary reference of Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite author, his reference to some of his books.

As i stumbled to a sales post in a Facebook page of books for sale somewhen last year, I saw another Franz Kafka title called The Castle. I want to learn more of this author, his writing style and what's the experience of being Kafkasqued, so I bought this title from Books, Brains, Bombs Facebook page.

Franz Kafka's The Castle Book Details:

franz kafka the castle front cover modern library 388 Title: The Castle [ German: Das Schloss ]
Publisher: Modern Library
Modern Library No. 388 [ ML 388 ]
Edition: Definitive edition with an Homage by Thomas Mann
Publication Date:
Original Language: German
Translated to: English
Translated by: Willa and Edwin Muir
Original Publication: published in German as Das Schloss by Kurt Wolff, S. Fischer Verlag, Munich
Country: Czechoslovakia
Genre: Philosophical Fiction, Dystopian Novel, Political Fiction

franz kafka the castle modern library 388 book register detailsNote: As I've inspected this book, ISBN and other details usually found in modern publications are not present in this title. The only unique book details I've found is shown in the right picture.

I've retrieved the ISBN and other information from a closely similar copy sold by a seller in Amazon.com (see details here):
Modern Library; 1st edition (March 12, 1969)ISBN-10: 0394603885
ISBN-13: 9780394603889
Comparing the details above to the register of my book, It shows that my book was published first at February 1969. A true 1st Edition?

franz kafka the castle back cover modern library 388
The Castle, by Franz Kafka, ML 388 - Back Cover - List of other ML titles

franz kafka the castle modern library free endpaper
The Castle by Franz Kafka, ML 388 - lime colored free endpaper

franz kafka the castle modern library table of contents
The Castle, Definitive Edition, ML 388 - Table of Contents

franz kafka the castle modern library without dusk jacket cloth binding
The Castle, Modern Library no. 388 without dusk jacket, cloth binding

franz kafka the castle modern library without dusk jacket cloth binding ml logo embedded
The Castle, ML logo embedded

As i typically do whenever i read a new book, I don't read reviews and even read synopsis of what the book is all about before i read them. I read the book straight and i do skip the Introduction part (if any) so as to avoid any pre-judgement that may cloud my free understanding of what i'm going to read. So i did with The Castle.

The main protagonist of the story is K. As in "K." A name that is very unique and odd to have with. K. is a land-surveyor and was called by the authority of the village where he came to, I obviously think to do a land-surveying job. But upon his arrival in the village, he is kind of ostracized by the villager. I think, the correct term to call his situation as I've reviewed some discussions about this book, is called - alienation / social alienation. He was isolated from the community and not accommodated freely. K., with pride and stance like a Very Important Person (VIP), he demanded to call the authority who summoned him. Soon accompanied with a two assistants which were no used to him and fell in love with barmaid named Frieda. K. fights his way to reach the authority to proper the mess and complications brought to him. But unfortunately, the ending for this novel wasn't completed.

What i like about this book are the long monologues. Characters were talking lengthy with each other. They talk a lengthy conversation and then responded with a lengthy response from the other person he or she's talking to. I think, I may call it a lengthy small talk. But it's a no non-sense small talk, each characters were able to say all what they're trying to say. They expressed fully. I think, this is what they called expressing existential attitude. It's like existing in world surrounded with absurdity and trials.

Also, about my first impression of the book "What's the Castle about?". Though the book was not completed and I'm not quite sure if it was portrayed or the book already interpreted the meaning to it in the story, the situation where K. is in pertains about bad bureaucracy. I find the issue not to the Castle itself but to the officials of the Castle leaving K. forced with option he didn't want (like accepting the job as a helper in village's school).

My rating for this book is: 3.0 / 5.0

I guess, I can give it a higher rating if Franz Kafka completed the book. But all-in-all, It's a good read and study of what existentialism is.

Hope you enjoy my review.



  • Franz Kafka was born July 03, 1883 in Prague, Bohemia (now Czech Republic)
  • Kafka didn't want to publish his work The Castle but Max Brod (his biographer) continued the publication in 1926
  • Franz Kafka's death is associated with tuberculosis. He died in June 03, 1924. The cause of death may also be due to starvation because he is also having difficulty eating his food.
  • he's regarded as most influential author of the 20th century
  • his work influenced other notable authors like Albert Camus, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jean-Paul Sartre
  • in honoring his name and works, Kafkaesque terminology was formed to describe existential situation

Buy a similar edition of The Castle provided at the ff. Amazon.com link:

Or, try a various new editions from these publishers, also with Amazon.com:

Alternatively, you can buy some other editions with free shipping worldwide! Fulfilled by BookDepository.com:

The Castle | Franz Kafka
Paperback | Schocken Kafka Library
ISBN 10: 0805211063
ISBN 13: 9780805211061
<- click the image to go to the item for sale

The Castle | Franz Kafka
Hardback | Everyman's Library
ISBN 10: 1857151275
ISBN 13: 9781857151275
<- click the image to go to the item for sale

The Castle | Franz Kafka
Paperback | Penguin Classics
ISBN 10: 0141183446
ISBN 13: 9780141183442
<- click the image to go to the item for sale
The Castle | Franz Kafka
Paperback | Wordsworth Classics of World Literature
ISBN 10: 1840221828
ISBN 13: 9781840221824
<- click the image to go to the item for sale

The Castle | Franz Kafka
Paperback | Oxford World's Classics
ISBN 10: 0199238286
ISBN 13: 9780199238286
<- click the image to go to the item for sale





  1. A first edition? Lucky you! that's a real gem right there!

  2. Great review. i can't find that book anymore.

  3. Oh nice! I'm a fan of books but only the romantic kind. Haha. Maybe I should check this out since I wanted to try something different. Thanks for this review. :)

  4. The books sounds interesting to read.

  5. I'm planning to buy this book but now, I'm hesitant to buy it due to just a fair rating. Thanks for the great review...

  6. First Edition's are gems! You got a great review. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Nice Review! and lucky to have that first ed.

  8. This is the first time I've heard of Franz Kafka. Interesting book and synopsis. Far more than that, this is an awesome site for bookworms!