Mark Anderson

Oct 27, 2022

On Franz Kafka's "The Trial"

A Discussion with Mark Anderson

New Books Network 2022

When reading a crime novel, we usually learn the crime within the first few page turns; the trick is discovering the perpetrator. Perhaps this is what makes Franz Kafka’s 1914 book The Trial so haunting—the crime itself is never revealed. Kafka was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1883 and died in 1924, never experiencing the Nazis or Hitler’s totalitarian rise to power. Yet his book seems to prophesize the most dangerous aspects of unchecked bureaucracy, legal systems, and arbitrary power. Columbia University Professor Mark Anderson discusses the legacy of Franz Kafka and how his brutal and terrifying novel helped birth the term “Kafkaesque.” Mark Anderson is the Director of Undergraduate Germanic Studies and a Professor of Germanic Languages at Columbia University. He is the author of books such as Kafka’s Clothes and Reading Kafka: Prague, Politics and the Fin de Siecle. See more information on our website,

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