ONLINE SEMINAR
October 4 | Kafka’s The Trial

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. — Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka’s own novel, The Trial, written around 1915 and published posthumously in 1926, is one heck of an axe.

The novel is as puzzling as it is prescient. In the opening sentence, Kafka immediately sets up the skewed reality his protagonist will be compelled to deal with for the rest of his life: “Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”

K’s initial indictment is followed by a series of encounters with various agents of the court system. With each episode, Kafka draws us deeper into the shadowy world of the court bureaucracy, compelling us to ask about the nature of power, its use in human institutions such as the legal system, and the complex ways bureaucracies can shape human lives and relationships.

When: Three weekly sessions on Sundays, starting October 4, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern

Duration: 2 hours per session

Cost: C$175 plus 13% HST (approx. US$125 plus 13% HST)

Group Size: 12-participant limit

How: We will be using Zoom online meeting software; you will receive instructions on how to download Zoom free after registration. For your privacy, all our Zoom seminars are password-protected and are never recorded.

All online seminar payments are nonrefundable. Select your registration below; please use the Toronto Pursuits credit option only if you are a registered participant of Toronto Pursuits 2020 who wants to put your deposit or previous payment toward an online seminar.

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Description

LEADER

Hunter Dunn lives in Detroit and has worked at the Cranbrook Educational Community for the past 11 years. Before that, he was a trainer and consultant for the Great Books Foundation. He has been a seminar leader at Toronto Pursuits, and happily returns to lead online seminars. The Trial was Hunter’s favourite title on the syllabus of an old elective course he taught called “Law and Literature.” After a handful of readings, he still finds the novel fascinating and perplexing.

BOOK

The Trial: A New Translation Based on the Restored Text, by Franz Kafka, translated by Breon Mitchell
(Schocken Books, 1999)
ISBN-13: 978-0805209990

Please be sure to obtain this translation.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. — Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka’s own novel, The Trial, written around 1915 and published posthumously in 1926, is one heck of an axe.

The novel is as puzzling as it is prescient. In the opening sentence, Kafka immediately sets up the skewed reality his protagonist will be compelled to deal with for the rest of his life: “Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”

K’s initial indictment is followed by a series of encounters with various agents of the court system. With each episode, Kafka draws us deeper into the shadowy world of the court bureaucracy, compelling us to ask about the nature of power, its use in human institutions such as the legal system, and the complex ways bureaucracies can shape human lives and relationships.

Despite some quite bizarre episodes in the novel, Anthony Kennedy, the recently retired United States Supreme Court Justice, remarked that The Trial “is actually closer to reality than fantasy as far as the client’s perception of the [criminal justice] system. It’s supposed to be a fantastic allegory but it’s reality.”

We will reserve some time at the end of the last seminar to explore any connections we see between the novel and the “reality” of modern life. Was the book at all an axe for the frozen sea within you?

All online seminar payments are nonrefundable.

 

Image credit: Elke Redher on Flickr

Additional information

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Standard registration, Toronto Pursuits 2020 credit

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