Everything is Oll Korrect!

An eclectic bibliophile's journal…

Tag: audiobooks

The Castle (75 Books – XX)

Is it fair to criticise a book that the author left unfinished at his death? Well, it was published, so I suppose so.

Most of Franz Kafka’s The Castle doesn’t really feel unfinished, anyway. There are a few spots that could use some editing, I suppose, but I wouldn’t have guessed that the author died before completing it until the book stops. That’s probably the main problem, really, which is hardly Kafka’s fault – though there is a note at the end of my audiobook edition about how Kafka intended the novel to end, the manuscript we have just stops in the middle. I sense that the story was likely nearing a conclusion, but obviously it’s still frustrating to have a story just stop with no conclusion at all.

Not that I mind the novel ending soon, so much; it started getting tedious to listen through well before the stop. The majority of the novel consists of the protagonist, K., going from conversation to conversation trying to sort out his position in this town where he was summoned to work as a land surveyor, only to find that this was likely a mistake. One problem is that most of these dialogues take the same basic form; one character relates some event, interprets it, the other says, essentially, “Ah, that’s what you think it means, but actually it means this…” Conveying the tedium of K.’s efforts is part of the intended effect, but unfortunately Kafka may have succeeded a little too well.

Also, I may have missed something here, but it’s not entirely clear to me why K. can’t just leave the town, aside from stubbornness. He talks about the difficult journey to get there, but it becomes clear fairly quickly that he’s not going to be able to work as a land surveyor, and as far as I can tell there’s nothing keeping him there. I’d assumed early on that he must have a hidden reason for wanting to stay, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Perhaps Kafka planned to add some explanation later, but I can only take the novel as it is now.

I listened to this in an edition published by Naxos Audiobooks, and read by Allan Corduner, who does a fine job narrating. He’s actually the first narrator I’ve encountered whose work I’d listen to just because he’s the narrator. My only problem, and this is very much a minor issue, is that the main character’s name (or initial, I suppose) is pronounced with the German name for the letter, “kah,” instead of the English “kay,” so it took me a while to figure out what his “name” actually is. Everything else is fine, though, and the narration was probably the highlight of the book.…

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The Bibliophile’s Journal VIII

Yeah, dropping the post subtitling thing after one week. Maybe next time, if I think of something good.

Anyway, this past month may mark the beginning of a change in the way I read books, since I’ve subscribed to Audible. I’ve listened to a handful of audiobooks in the past, and though I don’t like them nearly as much as sitting down and reading through a physical book I decided to give this a try since I often find myself listening to podcasts while, say, cooking or working out. I don’t actually follow many podcasts, though, but audiobooks seem like a logical step. Besides, I don’t get through as many books as I’d like, and this should help with that.

The first audiobook I downloaded was Mishima Yukio’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Like I expect from a Mishima novel, much of the story consists of either seemingly unrelated anecdotes of the narrator’s life or philosophical tangents, but they all tie together and lead towards the novel’s climax (so it seems so far, but I’m 90% through and am pretty sure I know where this will end). Mishima’s stories remind me somewhat of Flannery O’Connor in that he likes to make use of the grotesque not so much for shock value, but to make a larger point, though that point seems more obscure with Mishima than O’Connor. At least, I feel like I grasp O’Connor’s ideas more readily than Mishima’s.

On a side note, it took some time to get used to the reader’s voice. It’s softer and higher-pitched than I expected, though I suppose it does match what I imagine the narrator’s voice would sound like. I guess I was just prefer movie announcer guy’s voice when listening to someone read.…

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