The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was laying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off com...

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Title:The Metamorphosis
Author:Franz Kafka
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Metamorphosis Reviews

  • Ken

    Endlessly dissected, ripped apart, its guts laid out on a slab, sewn back together, reconstructed, reinterpreted, misunderstood, misinterpreted, parodied, plagiarized, overanalyzed, and sadly sometimes underappreciated. Kafka’s

    is one of those jumping off points for modern literature, a key touchstone where so many good writers -- Borges, Nabokov, García Márquez – found inspiration in his work and studied it like a textbook on great writing.

    But what is the metamorphosis? A dark

    Endlessly dissected, ripped apart, its guts laid out on a slab, sewn back together, reconstructed, reinterpreted, misunderstood, misinterpreted, parodied, plagiarized, overanalyzed, and sadly sometimes underappreciated. Kafka’s

    is one of those jumping off points for modern literature, a key touchstone where so many good writers -- Borges, Nabokov, García Márquez – found inspiration in his work and studied it like a textbook on great writing.

    But what is the metamorphosis? A dark fantasy about a man who wakes up one day to find himself transformed into a vile insect-like creature? Or an absurdist tale of a schizophrenic who believes he’s been turned into a human-sized beetle, terrorizing his family with his decrepit mental state? Kafka left that open for us to decide, even asking his original publisher to remove any imagery involving an insect off the cover. The first edition cover (you can find it on Wikipedia: ttp://

    ) is not a definitive statement on the story either. Is it the afflicted Gregor Samsa we see or his unnerved father fleeing from the sight of the creature in his son’s room? As it was written in German, Kafka never definitively stated what Gregor had become. The term he used, in what has now become one of the more famous opening lines in literature, to describe Gregor’s transformation was “ungeheueres Ungeziefer,” which literally means “unclean animal not suitable for sacrifice.” This has been translated (and mistranslated) as “gigantic insect” in some cases, but in later years, more translators have settled on “monstrous vermin,” as this seems to suit Kafka’s vague intent much better. But if you want to read the numerous theories, Google the book. I’ll leave it to those who are far more and far less philosophical than I.

    In its construction,

    is flawless. Kafka upends the entire structure of modern storytelling, giving us the climax first, never explaining the possible source for Gregor’s affliction. Instead, Kafka leaves us in the dénouement, showing us the ugly effects of Gregor’s transformation on his too dependent family, who must now care for this unwanted monstrosity. As the tables are turned, the family shuns Gregor, locking him away. We then see Gregor move in two opposing directions -- becoming more louse-like in his basic behavior (such as eating garbage), but also more human in his fantasies (and sudden appreciation of music). It is this complex contrast that makes Gregor seem more human to us, thus playing into Kafka’s slippery reality that confuses as much as illuminates.

    And yet,

    is not all doom and gloom. It’s actually quite funny. Sure, it has a dark, black sense of humor, but nevertheless, you can’t help but laugh at parts. When the new house maid spies Gregor for the first time, she does not turn tail, screaming in horror like his family. She merely states, “Come over here for a minute you old dung beetle!” Or the lodgers, who upon seeing Gregor slowly crawling towards them, do not try to smash him or exit the premises. They try to negotiate out of paying rent to Gregor’s father in light of the “disgusting conditions prevailing in this apartment and family.” Even Gregor’s ultimate fate, which I won’t give away, is handled in a way that the cast members from Monty Python’s Flying Circus would certainly appreciate.

    With so many layers to it,

    still remains one of the most studied and widely imitated novels of the 20th century. But in its purest sense, it is an amazing, perfectly crafted, dark little fable.

  • Gaurav

    The Metamorphosis can quite easily be one of Franz Kafka’s best works of literature- one of the best in Existentialist literature. The author shows the struggle of human existence- the problem of living in modern society- through the narrator.

    Gregor Samsa wakes in his bed and discovers he has transformed into a some kind of a giant bug; he struggles to find what actually has happened to him, he looks around his small room and everything looks normal to him however it

    The Metamorphosis can quite easily be one of Franz Kafka’s best works of literature- one of the best in Existentialist literature. The author shows the struggle of human existence- the problem of living in modern society- through the narrator.

    Gregor Samsa wakes in his bed and discovers he has transformed into a some kind of a giant bug; he struggles to find what actually has happened to him, he looks around his small room and everything looks normal to him however it gets a weird feeling it may not be so. He tries to roll over and go back to sleep in order to forget about what has happened, but because of the shape of his back, he can only rock from side to side.

    The opening line of the novella recounts the bizarre event of Gregor’s transformation in a quite straightforward manner, the author used the contrasting picture of an unusual situation and ordinary things of life to create an absurd world which is chilly, chaotic rather than ordered and rational.

    Gregor gets used to his insect body and his family feeds him (mainly the wrong things, but they don't care) and removes furniture from his room so that he can freely move around and climb the walls. But they don't want to see his ugly form, he is confined to his room, and usually hides under the sofa when his sister enters with his food, to spare her sensibilities (in contrast to the sweetly human insect Gregor, his sister is not considerate at all, but increasingly antagonistic and cruel); his brutish father chases him back by throwing apples at him when he once comes out. The family members also have to take jobs for they can no longer sponge off the successful son. And the situation breaks down, and the family disintegrates.

    The problem of alienation is explored to depth in the novella- Gregor become insect and behaviour of his family members change towards him, he may transformed to something unusual at the core he is still the same however he faces problem of acceptance by society due to his transformed appearance.

    Gregor Samsa can make us think more deeply about our own identity, about the fluidity of what we take to be stable and fixed, and about the perils and miracles of our own metamorphoses. Kafka shows us that how the values of conventional society are warped due to our inability to look beyond the surface to the human being inside.

  • Huda Yahya
  • Rebecca

    I once used my copy to kill a beetle.

    Thereby combining my two passions: irony and slaughter.

    *wields*

  • Dan Schwent

    Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to discover he's been transformed into a giant beetle-like creature. Can he and his family adjust to his new form?

    The Metamorphosis is one of those books that a lot of people get dragooned into reading during high school and therefore are predisposed to loath. I managed to escape this fate and I'm glad. The Metamorphosis is quite a strange little book.

    Translated from German, The Metamorphosis is the story of how Gregor Samsa's transformation tears his family apa

    Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to discover he's been transformed into a giant beetle-like creature. Can he and his family adjust to his new form?

    The Metamorphosis is one of those books that a lot of people get dragooned into reading during high school and therefore are predisposed to loath. I managed to escape this fate and I'm glad. The Metamorphosis is quite a strange little book.

    Translated from German, The Metamorphosis is the story of how Gregor Samsa's transformation tears his family apart. I feel like there are hidden meanings that are just beyond my grasp. I suspect it's a commentary about how capitalism devours its workers when they're unable to work or possibly about how the people who deviate from the norm are isolated. However, I mostly notice how Samsa's a big frickin' beetle and his family pretends he doesn't exist.

    There's some absurdist humor at the beginning. Samsa's first thoughts upon finding out he's a beetle is how he's going to miss work. Now, I'm as dedicated to my job as most people but if I woke up to find myself a giant beetle, I don't think I'd have to mull over the decision to take a personal day or two.

    Aside from that, the main thing that sticks out is what a bunch of bastards Samsa's family is. He's been supporting all of them for years in his soul-crushing traveling salesman job and now they're pissed that they have to carry the workload. Poor things. It's not like Gregor's sitting on the couch drinking beer while they're working. He's a giant damn beetle! Cut him some slack.

    All kidding aside, the ending is pretty sad. I'll bet Mr. Samsa felt like a prick later. The Metamorphosis gets four stars, primarily for being so strange and also because it's the ancestor of many weird or bizarro tales that came afterwords. It's definitely worth an hour or two of your time.

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