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Acclaimed graphic artist Peter Kuper presents a kinetic illustrated adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Kuper’s electric drawings—where American cartooning meets German expressionism—bring Kafka’s prose to vivid life, reviving the original story’s humor and poignancy in a way that will surprise and delight readers of Kafka and ...
Acclaimed graphic artist Peter Kuper presents a kinetic illustrated adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Kuper’s electric drawings—where American cartooning meets German expressionism—bring Kafka’s prose to vivid life, reviving the original story’s humor and poignancy in a way that will surprise and delight readers of Kafka and graphic novels alike.
PETER KUPER’s work has appeared in Time, Esquire, The New Yorker, and the New York Times, among others. He’s the author and illustrator of several books, including Give It Up!, a collection of Kafka stories.
When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. He was lying on his back as hard as armor plate, and when he lifted his head a little, he saw his vaulted brown belly, sectioned by arch-shaped ribs, to whose dome the cover, about to slide off completely, could barely cling. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, were waving helplessly before his eyes.
"What's happened to me?" he thought. It was no dream. His room, a regular human room, only a little on the small side, lay quiet between the four familiar walls. Over the table, on which an unpacked line of fabric samples was all spread out--Samsa was a traveling salesman--hung the picture which he had recently cut out of a glossy magazine and lodged in a pretty gilt frame. It showed a lady done up in a fur hat and a fur boa, sitting upright and raising up against the viewer a heavy fur muff in which her whole forearm had disappeared.
Gregor's eyes then turned to the window, and the overcast weather--he could hear raindrops hitting against the metal window ledge--completely depressed him. "How about going back to sleep for a few minutes and forgetting all this nonsense," he thought, but that was completely impracticable, since he was used to sleeping on his right side and in his present state could not get into that position. No matter how hard he threw himself onto his right side, he always rocked onto his back again. He must have tried it a hundred times, closing his eyes so as not to have to see his squirming legs, and stopped only when he began to feel a slight, dull pain in his side, which he had never felt before.
"Oh God," he thought, "what a grueling job I've picked! Day in, day out--on the road. The upset of doing business is much worse than the actual business in the home office, and, besides, I've got the torture of traveling, worrying about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours, constantly seeing new faces, no relationships that last or get more intimate. To the devil with it all!" He felt a slight itching up on top of his belly; shoved himself slowly on his back closer to the bedpost, so as to be able to lift his head better; found the itchy spot, studded with small white dots which he had no idea what to make of; and wanted to touch the spot with one of his legs but immediately pulled it back, for the contact sent a cold shiver through him.
He slid back again into his original position. "This getting up so early," he thought, "makes anyone a complete idiot. Human beings have to have their sleep. Other traveling salesmen live like harem women. For instance, when I go back to the hotel before lunch to write up the business I've done, these gentlemen are just having breakfast. That's all I'd have to try with my boss; I'd be fired on the spot. Anyway, who knows if that wouldn't be a very good thing for me. If I didn't hold back for my parents' sake, I would have quit long ago, I would have marched up to the boss and spoken my piece from the bottom of my heart. He would have fallen off the desk! It is funny, too, the way he sits on the desk and talks down from the heights to the employees, especially when they have to come right up close on account of the boss's being hard of hearing. Well, I haven't given up hope completely; once I've gotten the money together to pay off my parents' debt to him--that will probably take another five or six years--I'm going to do it without fail. Then I'm going to make the big break. But for the time being I'd better get up, since my train leaves at five."
And he looked over at the alarm clock, which was ticking on the chest of drawers. "God Almighty!" he thought. It was six-thirty, the hands were quietly moving forward, it was actually past the half-hour, it was already nearly a quarter to. Could it be that the alarm hadn't gone off? You could see from the bed that it was set correctly for four o'clock; it certainly had gone off, too. Yes, but was it possible to sleep quietly through a ringing that made the furniture shake? Well, he certainly hadn't slept quietly, but probably all the more soundly for that. But what should he do now? The next train left at seven o'clock; to make it, he would have to hurry like a madman, and the line of samples wasn't packed yet, and he himself didn't feel especially fresh and ready to march around. And even if he did make the train, he could not avoid getting it from the boss, because the messenger boy had been waiting at the five-o'clock train and would have long ago reported his not showing up. He was a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone. What if he were to say he was sick? But that would be extremely embarrassing and suspicious because during his five years with the firm Gregor had not been sick even once. The boss would be sure to come with the health-insurance doctor, blame his parents for their lazy son, and cut off all excuses by quoting the health-insurance doctor, for whom the world consisted of people who were completely healthy but afraid to work. And, besides, in this case would he be so very wrong? In fact, Gregor felt fine, with the exception of his drowsiness, which was really unnecessary after sleeping so late, and he even had a ravenous appetite.
Just as he was thinking all this over at top speed, without being able to decide to get out of bed--the alarm clock had just struck a quarter to seven--he heard a cautious knocking at the door next to the head of his bed. "Gregor," someone called--it was his mother--"it's a quarter to seven. Didn't you want to catch the train?" What a soft voice! Gregor was shocked to hear his own voice answering, unmistakably his own voice, true, but in which, as if from below, an insistent distressed chirping intruded, which left the clarity of his words intact only for a moment really, before so badly garbling them as they carried that no one could be sure if he had heard right. Gregor had wanted to answer in detail and to explain everything, but, given the circumstances, confined himself to saying, "Yes, yes, thanks, Mother, I'm just getting up." The wooden door must have prevented the change in Gregor's voice from being noticed outside, because his mother was satisfied with this explanation and shuffled off. But their little exchange had made the rest of the family aware that, contrary to expectations, Gregor was still in the house, and already his father was knocking on one of the side doors, feebly but with his fist. "Gregor, Gregor," he called, "what's going on?" And after a little while he called again in a deeper, warning voice, "Gregor! Gregor!" At the other side door, however, his sister moaned gently, "Gregor? Is something the matter with you? Do you want anything?" Toward both sides Gregor answered: "I'm all ready," and made an effort, by meticulous pronunciation and by inserting long pauses between individual words, to eliminate everything from his voice that might betray him. His father went back to his breakfast, but his sister whispered, "Gregor, open up, I'm pleading with you." But Gregor had absolutely no intention of opening the door and complimented himself instead on the precaution he had adopted from his business trips, of locking all the doors during the night even at home.
First of all he wanted to get up quietly, without any excitement; get dressed; and, the main thing, have breakfast, and only then think about what to do next, for he saw clearly that in bed he would never think things through to a rational conclusion. He remembered how even in the past he had often felt some kind of slight pain, possibly caused by lying in an uncomfortable position, which, when he got up, turned out to be purely imaginary, and he was eager to see how today's fantasy would gradually fade away. That the change in his voice was nothing more than the first sign of a bad cold, an occupational ailment of the traveling salesman, he had no doubt in the least.
It was very easy to throw off the cover; all he had to do was puff himself up a little, and it fell off by itself. But after this, things got difficult, especially since he was so unusually broad. He would have needed hands and arms to lift himself up, but instead of that he had only his numerous little legs, which were in every different kind of perpetual motion and which, besides, he could not control. If he wanted to bend one, the first thing that happened was that it stretched itself out;* and if he finally succeeded in getting this leg to do what he wanted, all the others in the meantime, as if set free, began to work in the most intensely painful agitation. "Just don't stay in bed being useless," Gregor said to himself.
First he tried to get out of bed with the lower part of his body, but this lower part--which by the way he had not seen yet and which he could not form a clear picture of--proved too difficult to budge; it was taking so long; and when finally, almost out of his mind, he lunged forward with all his force, without caring, he had picked the wrong direction and slammed himself violently against the lower bedpost, and the searing pain he felt taught him that exactly the lower part of his body was, for the moment anyway, the most sensitive.
He therefore tried to get the upper part of his body out of bed first and warily turned his head toward the edge of the bed. This worked easily, and in spite of its width and weight, the mass of his body finally followed, slowly, the movement of his head. But when at last he stuck his head over the edge of the bed into the air, he got too scared to continue any further, since if he finally let himself fall in this position, it would be a miracle if he didn't injure his head. And just now he had better not for the life of him lose consciousness; he would rather stay in bed.
But when, once again, after the same exertion, he lay in his original position, sighing, and again watched his little legs struggling, if possible more fiercely, with each other and saw no way of bringing peace and order into this mindless motion, he again told himself that it was impossible for him to stay in bed and that the most rational thing was to make any sacrifice for even the smallest hope of freeing himself from the bed. But at the same time he did not forget to remind himself occasionally that thinking things over calmly--indeed, as calmly as possible--was much better than jumping to desperate decisions. At such moments he fixed his eyes as sharply as possible on the window, but unfortunately there was little confidence and cheer to be gotten from the view of the morning fog, which shrouded even the other side of the narrow street. "Seven o'clock already," he said to himself as the alarm clock struck again, "seven o'clock already and still such a fog." And for a little while he lay quietly, breathing shallowly, as if expecting, perhaps, from the complete silence the return of things to the way they really and naturally were.
But then he said to himself, "Before it strikes a quarter past seven, I must be completely out of bed without fail. Anyway, by that time someone from the firm will be here to find out where I am, since the office opens before seven." And now he started rocking the complete length of his body out of the bed with a smooth rhythm. If he let himself topple out of bed in this way, his head, which on falling he planned to lift up sharply, would presumably remain unharmed. His back seemed to be hard; nothing was likely to happen to it when it fell onto the carpet. His biggest misgiving came from his concern about the loud crash that was bound to occur and would probably create, if not terror, at least anxiety behind all the doors. But that would have to be risked.
When Gregor's body already projected halfway out of bed--the new method was more of a game than a struggle, he only had to keep on rocking and jerking himself along--he thought how simple everything would be if he could get some help. Two strong persons--he thought of his father and the maid--would have been completely sufficient; they would only have had to shove their arms under his arched back, in this way scoop him off the bed, bend down with their burden, and then just be careful and patient while he managed to swing himself down onto the floor, where his little legs would hopefully acquire some purpose. Well, leaving out the fact that the doors were locked, should he really call for help? In spite of all his miseries, he could not repress a smile at this thought.
He was already so far along that when he rocked more strongly he could hardly keep his balance, and very soon he would have to commit himself, because in five minutes it would be a quarter past seven--when the doorbell rang. "It's someone from the firm," he said to himself and almost froze, while his little legs only danced more quickly. For a moment everything remained quiet. "They're not going to answer," Gregor said to himself, captivated by some senseless hope. But then, of course, the maid went to the door as usual with her firm stride and opened up. Gregor only had to hear the visitor's first word of greeting to know who it was--the office manager himself. Why was only Gregor condemned to work for a firm where at the slightest omission they immediately suspected the worst? Were all employees louts without exception, wasn't there a single loyal, dedicated worker among them who, when he had not fully utilized a few hours of the morning for the firm, was driven half-mad by pangs of conscience and was actually unable to get out of bed? Really, wouldn't it have been enough to send one of the apprentices to find out--if this prying were absolutely necessary--did the manager himself have to come, and did the whole innocent family have to be shown in this way that the investigation of this suspicious affair could be entrusted only to the intellect of the manager? And more as a result of the excitement produced in Gregor by these thoughts than as a result of any real decision, he swung himself out of bed with all his might. There was a loud thump, but it was not a real crash. The fall was broken a little by the carpet, and Gregor's back was more elastic than he had thought, which explained the not very noticeable muffled sound. Only he had not held his head carefully enough and hit it; he turned it and rubbed it on the carpet in anger and pain.
Posted December 2, 2009
A man wakes up one day to find he has been changed into a large insect/beetle. The story follows his efforts to deal with this, and his family's reaction to the change. But it's not just a story about a man turning into a beetle, it's a clever way of writing about how a family would deal with the main breadwinner in the house becoming unable to work, and also on a wider scope, the way a family (and the world at large) reacts to someone who is disabled, or terminally ill. It could also be an analogy for how a family treats a member of the family who is now old and needs to be cared for. The man who is now a beetle, is forced to live in his room, shut away from the world, for fear that he will frighten anyone who enters the house. The man who once provided for the family, and thought of them above himself, has now become a burden on them, as they are now short of money, and have to find employment. The once able and hard-working man, transformed into a beetle, is now rejected, and his family blame him for their financial situation and the fact that they cannot move to a smaller house, because they need to have a room to keep him in.
The descriptive quality of the writing is excellent, and although it is a sad and gruesome tale, it is also very funny in parts; I couldn't help laughing out loud a couple of times.
The main thing that struck me, was that even though this story is nearly 100 years old, it is still totally relevant to today's world (and I'm not sure that's something we should be proud of).
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 17, 2007
I recently read this story for a class and I can honestly say it is the first thing I have actually read this semester. I loved this book, despite the fact it made me ¿absurdly sad¿. Kafka is a genius and the story is a testament to the power that the horrific, weird, funny and tragic elements of being human effect us all. The bottom line is READ THIS STORY!
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2010
My sister loved this book, and evidently so did online reviewers and critics. In fact, the book version I read is full of critical essays at the back: how the story relates to religion, resurrection, liberation, tragedy, allegory, how "Kafka" is an anagram, etc. But I just don't see how this story deserves all that attention. It wasn't very realistic, even disregarding the main theme that a man turns into a beetle, the allegorical intent wasn't clear, unlike say "Animal Farm," the ending was unrealistic, disappointing, and prolonged, the story wasn't very interesting compared to movies like "The Fly" or "Sssssss" or "Thinner", and the writing wasn't particularly clever or appealing. It's just a story about a young man named Gregor who turns into some unspecified beetle/vermin, generally considered to be a cockroach, and about the effect this has on his family as his family locks him away in his bedroom. The whole story takes place in a single house, so it would be suitable for a play, but lacks some interest as a result. It is not clear if Gregor is merely imagining his voice as being intelligible or if it really is, it's not clear if Gregor's metamorphosis is making him progressively insect-like or if his state is stable, it's not clear why he's not hungry at the end, or whether he's becoming weak through lack of nutrition or rather laziness, and so on. Obviously the book is full of symbolism, but the meaning and nature of Gregor's situation is never very clear, which I regard as a result of a poor, sketchy writing style, rather than an intentional allegory. We clearly perceive that Gregor's condition brings about an improvement in everyone in his family, that Gregor was working himself to death for no reason, there are stabs at conventional working life and at nasty bosses who rule their employees' lives, but what this all means is never clear. So I guess all a writer has to do to universally elicit the interest of critics is to write a weak, simplistic story with a preposterous theme and make it vague enough that nobody understands it. To me that is not good writing.
3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 29, 2004
Posted May 16, 2008
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka starts off with the climax of the book when Gregor Samsa ¿woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin¿. The book deals with the family¿s reaction with the traumatizing transformation of their son and brother. The family, who was always taken care of by Gregor, now has to do the same for him. They soon fall under their own metamorphosis as time goes on. The book is heavy in symbolism and has many themes: ranging from learning to let go, living for your soul, proletariats being suppressed by the bourgeoisie, and etc.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 4, 2013
REVIEWED: The Metamorphosis
WRITTEN BY: Franz Kafka
PUBLISHED: MONTH, YEAR
“The Metamorphosis” is an enjoyable read, not difficult (as is often the expectation of classic literature), and interesting, in a unique, quiet way. It’s also overrated and, in my opinion, unsatisfying. The publisher’s overview is: “Gregor Samsa, a young man who, transformed overnight into a monstrous verminous bug, becomes an essentially alienated man.” That essentially sums up the entire story. There’s no more plot or build-up than that. Gregor hides in his room all day, as a bug, much to his and his family’s dismay. There’s no explanation as to what occurred to transform him as such, nor any great closing revelation; the story is simply Gregor caught up in his thoughts. It’s a book of interior voice, analogy, philosophy, satire, but not much “story.” There are many themes to contemplate, and if you are searching for a better understanding to man’s lot in life, this book may be for you. However, in terms of entertainment, it’s insufficient. Extra points allotted, however, for originality and for being the inspiration to numerous authors and genre movements such as satire and the more-recent bizarro.
Three-and-a-half out of Five stars
Posted March 29, 2013
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is one of the author’s most famous novellas. The work was published after his death.
This is the story of Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning and discovered he has turned into a giant bug. Gregor is worried because he overslept and missed his train for work. The metamorphosis is a metaphor for an illness a person is inflicted with which is outside their control.
Gregor is the sole breadwinner for his family and their reactions to his radical transformation are what makes the book both sad and disconcerting. Gregor’s family goes through grief, endurance, repugnance and sad of all, blaming Gregor himself and detesting what he has become.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a dark and disturbing tale. The story captured me from the first line “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug”. We know nothing about Gregor, who are what he is, and this strange opening simply breeds curiosity.
The story is relevant even today, which is why I believe this simple tale became a classic. The feeling of helplessness, escaping things which are difficult and /or beyond our control and make our humdrum lives easy and simple.
It is difficult to face the truth, and why would you want to unless you absolutely had to do so?
Kafka’s world (in this case a room) is dark and foreboding, with situations beyond anyone’s control. The individual battles against the powers-that-be (be they government, Kismet, G-d or just chance) is lost from the beginning and even if you’d won – it still wouldn’t make a difference.
I found the relationship of the protagonist and his family to be the most fascinating. In a short time he goes from being the humble breadwinner to a persona-non-grata. Even though his family looks down on him, Gregor still works at a job he doesn’t like simply because others are more important to him then himself. Gregor doesn’t have a “life”, simply goes to work, hands over his money to help his debt ridden family and thinks that this is the way things are.
Gregor seems to be the person everyone kicks around, his family is lazy, at his work he is humiliated and even though never missing a day of work he constantly feels as if he’ll get fired and now he is turned to a bug.
I did not expect this short story to be so deep, there are many themes condescend in a short space and between the lines. I would highly recommend this novella to anyone who likes to think into the deeper meaning of what is not written rather than a straight out narrative.
Posted May 14, 2012
Posted January 21, 2012
Posted November 21, 2011
Franz Kafka uses brilliant symbolism, hilarious tone, and unique characterizations to exemplify the plight and transformation of this unfortunate salesman and it is through these tools that Kafka creates an absurd experience that any reader can relate to. The symbolism throughout this story is for the reader to understand and appreciate Gregor's view towards independence. Gregor was changed over night into a gaint insect, but Kafka uses this change as a symbol for Gregor's metamorphosis towards humanity. Before Gregor's transformation, he only lived life to serve others, but through his metamorphosis Gregor slowly comes to meet his own desires, seeking a more personal independence and even coming to appreciate music and art more.I found this book extremely entertaining. I would recommend it to anyone who likes suspense and drama.In order to see life as it really is, is to see that life is not worth living without people who love you and whom you can love.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 18, 2010
"The Metamorphosis" is a story of unconditional love from the breadwinner of a family towards his family. It shows. how sometimes, closest relative even parents turn their back on when any misfortune happens in a family. It is a sad story and has very touchy subject. everyone should check it out in order to know the realities of life closely...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2010
This is a touching, sad, and disturbing story of a boy who wakes up and has transformed into a cockroach. It's about how his family reacts to his transformation and what Gregor must do to get through this creepy state. The book The Metamorphosis is captivating.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2010
I'm not much of a reader, but I cant honestly enjoyed the book. Kafka really made me feel bad for Gregor, the main character. Metamorphosis is a story about a man who one day wakes up and is a roach! and how his family treats him. It's a very interesting story, kept me tuning the page even though I'm not much of a reader. Makes you rethink your life, change something for the better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2010
I read this book in my English 1B class and I found out that it includes many different kind of symbolization to describe life.
Moreover, this book points out how people change, including family, when they face difficult situation. Somehow I feel this is a pretty sad story. The main character work so hard for his family,but he did not get any supports from his parents and sister. At the end of the story, the author writes something about the sister, who has a beauty figure. A very huge comparison between the main character and his sister.
Posted October 13, 2010
Metamorphosis was written by Franz Kafka! I personally think it was a good book, i found it interesting how the author used a working family mans everyday functions, and turned him into a insect over time! The main character was a guy name Gregor! Once i began to read the story it began to be very long and dragged out, and i thought this author has a lot of times on his hands and obviously liked to write! As i read on it caught my attention to read on! In the end it (bugged) me in the way that time can literally (fly) by if u keep your head down and bot make time for yourself!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2010
Im not much of a fictional reader but this story was a little interesting.The main character Gregory wakes up one day and suddenly he realizes that he has turned into a roach. Gegory is a successful sales man & once he woke up like this he was scared at what was to come going to work as an insect.His family had a hard time accepting the fact that he looked different and not normal. The sister tried to put things aside and act like he looked normal. I thought it was pretty funny how all of a sudden he turned into this insect. All in all, it was an okay story but I personally wouldnt read it again.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2010
Gregor, a typical young salesman wakes up one morning to find out that he is transforming into a disgusting and disturbing cockroach. Many would see it that way but Gregor is not disturbed one bit, the only thing that is disturbing, is that he's missing his day at work. The Metamorphosis brings a new twist to what most people would call fantasy. Gregor, being a giant insect, disturbs everyone around him but himself. This short story shows that unconditional love doesn't always apply, especially for this family. This story makes people think of how far a family is willing to go for a loved one, even in the most bizarre situations. Metamorphosis is an interesting short story that people should really consider reading.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2010
After finished 3/5 of the story, in my opinion, people would receive what they gave - some sort of karma.
He had struggled to worked hard in order pay off his parents' debts, yet he did not receive any kind of real true love from them- his family.
Posted October 13, 2010
A man wakes up one day to find he has been changed into a large insect. The story follows his efforts to deal with this, and his family's reaction to the change. But it's not just a story about a man turning into a cockroach, it's a clever way of writing about how a family would deal with the main breadwinner in the house becoming unable to work, and also on a wider scope, the way a family reacts to someone who is disabled, or terminally ill. It could also be an analogy for how a family treats a member of the family who is now old and needs to be cared for. The man who is now a cockroach, is forced to live in his room, shut away from the world, for fear that he will frighten anyone who enters the house. The man who once provided for the family, and thought of them above himself, has now become a burden on them, as they are now short of money, and have to find employment. The once able and hard-working man, transformed into a cockroach, is now rejected, and his family blames him for their financial situation and the fact that they cannot move to a smaller house, because they need to have a room to keep him in.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.