30 Lawyers, 30 Books: Thane Rosenbaum

Thane Rosenbaum in The ABA Journal, July 27, 2011

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Thane Rosenbaum

The Trial by Franz Kafka

As founding director of Fordham Law School’s immensely popular Forum on Law, Culture & Society, Thane Rosenbaum has pulled together some of the most prestigious gatherings of lawyers, judges, writers, actors and academics in the nation. He’s also an award-winning novelist; Fordham’s John Whelan Distinguished Lecturer in Law; and the editor of Law Lit: From Atticus Finch to The Practice.

“Franz Kafka’s masterpiece is a cautionary tale about the soul-crushing dimensions of the legal system. More allegory than story, this nightmarish parable makes being turned into a bug an improvement over what happens to Joseph K. on the day when officers of the court pay him a visit. Though they leave without ever charging or arresting him, they inform him that he is the subject of a legal proceeding where his guilt is certain. There is no actual legal trial in The Trial (spoiler alert), just the human trial of a man forever transformed by the grinding gears of the law. Joseph K. spends the novel desperately seeking an acquittal from a nameless crime while all of Prague becomes a prison on account of a legal proceeding that can’t be stopped even though it has barely begun.”