In America Karl Rossmann is 'packed off to America by his parents' to experience Oedipal and cultural isolation. Here, ordinary immigrants are also strange, and 'America' is never quite as real as it should be. Kafka, a Czech writing in German, never acutally visited America; so, as Max Brod commented, 'the innocence of his fantasy gives this book if advanture its peculiar colour.'
Both Joseph K in The Trial and K in The Castle are victims of anonymous governing forces beyond their control. Both are atomised, estranged and rootless citizens decieved by authoritarian power. Whereas Joseph K is relentlessly hunted down for a crime that remains nameless, K ceaselessly attempts to enter the castle and so belong somewhere. Together these novels may be read as powerful allegories of totalitarian government in whatever guise it appears today.
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was born into a Jewish family in Prague. In 1906 he received a doctorate in jurisprudence, and for many years he worked a tedious job as a civil service lawyer investigating claims at the state Worker's Accident Insurance Institute. He never married, and published only a few slim volumes of stories during his lifetime. Meditation, a collection of sketches, appeared in 1912; The Stoker: A Fragment in 1913; The Metamorphosis in 1915; The Judgement in 1916; In the Penal Colony in 1919; and A Country Doctor in 1920. Only a few of his friends knew that Kafka was also at work on the great novels that were published after his death from tuberculosis: America, The Trial, and The Castle.