Arriving in a village to take up the position of land surveyor for the mysterious lord of a castle, the character known as K. finds himself in a bitter and baffling struggle to contact his new employer and go about his duties.
As the villagers and the Castle officials block his efforts at every turn, K.’s consuming quest - quite possibly a self-imposed one - to penetrate the inaccessible heart of the Castle and take its measure is repeatedly frustrated. Kafka once suggested that the would-be surveyor in The Castle is driven by a wish “to get clear about ultimate things,” an unrealizable desire that provided the driving force behind all of Kafka’s dazzlingly uncanny fictions.
K.'s isolation and perplexity, his begging for the approval of elusive and anonymous powers, epitomises Kafka's vision of twentieth-century alienation and anxiety.
“He is the greatest German writer of our time. Such poets as Rilke or such novelists as Thomas Mann are dwarfs or plaster saints in comparison to him” - Vladimir Nabokov
“Of all Kafka’s fiction this is the most personal .” - Irving Howe