Josef K, the protagonist of Franz Kafka's The Trial was 30-year-old when he was arrested. My professor, who taught us the novel as part of the course “the Existentialist Novel” in the mid-1970s, told us that Kafka probably chose this age because 30 symbolized stability and respectability. “People in their 30s” he argued “have already reached the pinnacle of their career.” We, his students, all in our early 20s, accepted this is as a fact, for us, thirty was almost old age.
Ever since that day I have watched age 30 gradually falling from grace. It started with my own private biography. When my husband turned 30 his position in life was very far from being stable. He has just finished his PhD and was on his way to get his first teaching job. Three years later when I turned 30, I already had 2 very young girls, but my career has not even started. In comparison to K.’s position (before his arrest of course) our family was very far behind.
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