Traveling at Home: The Trial and the Exotic Heimat

  • John Zilcosky


The Trial (Der Prozeß) is clearly not a travel novel in the sense that Richard and Samuel and The Man Who Disappeared are. In fact, it could be read precisely as an anti-travel narrative. Unlike Richard, Samuel, Karl Rossmann, and K. from The Castle, Josef K. does not make a sustained journey from one place to the next, nor does he ever leave his hometown. But K. is continually in motion, perhaps even more so than his more obviously traveling counterparts. K. frequently moves from one site to another, and often in one of the city’s speedy, motorized taxis. Thus, whether K. is doing standard commuting or traveling to a strange suburb of the courts, his journeys are speedy and abruptly disorienting—such as the first time his uncle pulls him into a cab, calling out to the driver an unfamilia address (T 95; P 128).A brief inventory of K.’s “travels” follows, in chronological order:

boarding house (in city); office (in city center); home; courtroom (in first suburb); home; courtroom (first suburb); office; city streets with uncle; lawyer Huld’s home (first suburb); office; Titorelli’s attic (suburb diametrically opposite the first suburb); office; lawyer Huld’s home; office; cathedral (in city’s Cathedral Square); boarding house; stone quarry (open fields on edge of city).1


Tour Guide Bare Breast Skeptical Theory Home City Paternal Fascination 
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  1. 6.
    Eisner, “Franz Kafkas Prozeß und Prague,” German Life and Letters 14 (1960): 17Google Scholar
  2. 27.
    These conflicts include Gregor’s desire to punish himself (for having usurped his father’s dominant role in the family) (Kaiser), his masochistic “self-hatred” (Neider) and his latent “death drive” (Landberg). See Hellmuth Kaiser, “Franz Kafkas Inferno: Eine psychologische Deutung seiner Strafphantasie,” Imago 17 (1931): 41–103Google Scholar
  3. Paul Landsberg, “Kafka et ‘La Metamorphose,’” L’Esprit 72 (1938): 671–684.Google Scholar
  4. 59.
    Georges Van Den Abbeele, “Sightseers:The Tourist as Theorist,” diacritics 10 (December 1980): 2–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© John Zilcosky 2003

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  • John Zilcosky

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