Kafka's literary masterpiece about Gregor Samsa, a young man who, transformed overnight into a "monstrous verminous bug," becomes an essentially alienated man.
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A concise introduction that gives the reader important background information
A chronology of the author's life and work
A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context
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Detailed explanatory notes
Critical analysis and modern perspectives on the work
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About the Author
Franz Kafka (1883–1924) was born into a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague and is regarded as one of the major fiction writers of the 20th Century. His other works include The Trial, The Castle and In the Penal Colony. His unique body of writing is considered to be among the most influential in Western Literature.
Date of Birth:July 3, 1883
Date of Death:June 3, 1924
Place of Birth:Prague, Austria-Hungary
Place of Death:Vienna, Austria
Education:German elementary and secondary schools. Graduated from German Charles-Ferdinand University of Prague.
Read an Excerpt
One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.
"What's happened to me?" he thought. It wasn't a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table – Samsa was a travelling salesman – and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer.
Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather. Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane, which made him feel quite sad. "How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense", he thought, but that was something he was unable to do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present state couldn't get into that position. However hard he threw himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he wouldn't have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt before.
"Oh, God", he thought, "what a strenuous career it is that I've chosen! Travelling day in and day out. Doing business like this takes much more effort than doing your own business at home, and on top of that there's the curse of travelling, worries about making train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or become friendly with them. It can all go to Hell!" He felt a slight itch up on his belly; pushed himself slowly up on his back towards the headboard so that he could lift his head better; found where the itch was, and saw that it was covered with lots of little white spots which he didn't know what to make of; and when he tried to feel the place with one of his legs he drew it quickly back because as soon as he touched it he was overcome by a cold shudder.
He slid back into his former position. "Getting up early all the time", he thought, "it makes you stupid. You've got to get enough sleep. Other travelling salesmen live a life of luxury. For instance, whenever I go back to the guest house during the morning to copy out the contract, these gentlemen are always still sitting there eating their breakfasts. I ought to just try that with my boss; I'd get kicked out on the spot. But who knows, maybe that would be the best thing for me. If I didn't have my parents to think about I'd have given in my notice a long time ago, I'd have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him everything I would, let him know just what I feel. He'd fall right off his desk! And it's a funny sort of business to be sitting up there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates from up there, especially when you have to go right up close because the boss is hard of hearing. Well, there's still some hope; once I've got the money together to pay off my parents' debt to him – another five or six years I suppose – that's definitely what I'll do. That's when I'll make the big change. First of all though, I've got to get up, my train leaves at five."
And he looked over at the alarm clock, ticking on the chest of drawers. "God in Heaven!" he thought. It was half past six and the hands were quietly moving forwards, it was even later than half past, more like quarter to seven. Had the alarm clock not rung? He could see from the bed that it had been set for four o'clock as it should have been; it certainly must have rung. Yes, but was it possible to quietly sleep through that furniture-rattling noise? True, he had not slept peacefully, but probably all the more deeply because of that. What should he do now? The next train went at seven; if he were to catch that he would have to rush like mad and the collection of samples was still not packed, and he did not at all feel particularly fresh and lively. And even if he did catch the train he would not avoid his boss's anger as the office assistant would have been there to see the five o'clock train go, he would have put in his report about Gregor's not being there a long time ago. The office assistant was the boss's man, spineless, and with no understanding. What about if he reported sick? But that would be extremely strained and suspicious as in fifteen years of service Gregor had never once yet been ill. His boss would certainly come round with the doctor from the medical insurance company, accuse his parents of having a lazy son, and accept the doctor's recommendation not to make any claim as the doctor believed that no-one was ever ill but that many were workshy. And what's more, would he have been entirely wrong in this case? Gregor did in fact, apart from excessive sleepiness after sleeping for so long, feel completely well and even felt much hungrier than usual.
He was still hurriedly thinking all this through, unable to decide to get out of the bed, when the clock struck quarter to seven. There was a cautious knock at the door near his head. "Gregor", somebody called – it was his mother – "it's quarter to seven. Didn't you want to go somewhere?" That gentle voice! Gregor was shocked when he heard his own voice answering, it could hardly be recognised as the voice he had had before. As if from deep inside him, there was a painful and uncontrollable squeaking mixed in with it, the words could be made out at first but then there was a sort of echo which made them unclear, leaving the hearer unsure whether he had heard properly or not. Gregor had wanted to give a full answer and explain everything, but in the circumstances contented himself with saying: "Yes, mother, yes, thank-you, I'm getting up now." The change in Gregor's voice probably could not be noticed outside through the wooden door, as his mother was satisfied with this explanation and shuffled away. But this short conversation made the other members of the family aware that Gregor, against their expectations was still at home, and soon his father came knocking at one of the side doors, gently, but with his fist. "Gregor, Gregor", he called, "what's wrong?" And after a short while he called again with a warning deepness in his voice: "Gregor! Gregor!" At the other side door his sister came plaintively: "Gregor? Aren't you well? Do you need anything?" Gregor answered to both sides: "I'm ready, now", making an effort to remove all the strangeness from his voice by enunciating very carefully and putting long pauses between each, individual word. His father went back to his breakfast, but his sister whispered: "Gregor, open the door, I beg of you." Gregor, however, had no thought of opening the door, and instead congratulated himself for his cautious habit, acquired from his travelling, of locking all doors at night even when he was at home.
The first thing he wanted to do was to get up in peace without being disturbed, to get dressed, and most of all to have his breakfast. Only then would he consider what to do next, as he was well aware that he would not bring his thoughts to any sensible conclusions by lying in bed. He remembered that he had often felt a slight pain in bed, perhaps caused by lying awkwardly, but that had always turned out to be pure imagination and he wondered how his imaginings would slowly resolve themselves today. He did not have the slightest doubt that the change in his voice was nothing more than the first sign of a serious cold, which was an occupational hazard for travelling salesmen.
It was a simple matter to throw off the covers; he only had to blow himself up a little and they fell off by themselves. But it became difficult after that, especially as he was so exceptionally broad. He would have used his arms and his hands to push himself up; but instead of them he only had all those little legs continuously moving in different directions, and which he was moreover unable to control. If he wanted to bend one of them, then that was the first one that would stretch itself out; and if he finally managed to do what he wanted with that leg, all the others seemed to be set free and would move about painfully. "This is something that can't be done in bed", Gregor said to himself, "so don't keep trying to do it".
The first thing he wanted to do was get the lower part of his body out of the bed, but he had never seen this lower part, and could not imagine what it looked like; it turned out to be too hard to move; it went so slowly; and finally, almost in a frenzy, when he carelessly shoved himself forwards with all the force he could gather, he chose the wrong direction, hit hard against the lower bedpost, and learned from the burning pain he felt that the lower part of his body might well, at present, be the most sensitive.
So then he tried to get the top part of his body out of the bed first, carefully turning his head to the side. This he managed quite easily, and despite its breadth and its weight, the bulk of his body eventually followed slowly in the direction of the head. But when he had at last got his head out of the bed and into the fresh air it occurred to him that if he let himself fall it would be a miracle if his head were not injured, so he became afraid to carry on pushing himself forward the same way. And he could not knock himself out now at any price; better to stay in bed than lose consciousness.
It took just as much effort to get back to where he had been earlier, but when he lay there sighing, and was once more watching his legs as they struggled against each other even harder than before, if that was possible, he could think of no way of bringing peace and order to this chaos. He told himself once more that it was not possible for him to stay in bed and that the most sensible thing to do would be to get free of it in whatever way he could at whatever sacrifice. At the same time, though, he did not forget to remind himself that calm consideration was much better than rushing to desperate conclusions. At times like this he would direct his eyes to the window and look out as clearly as he could, but unfortunately, even the other side of the narrow street was enveloped in morning fog and the view had little confidence or cheer to offer him. "Seven o'clock, already", he said to himself when the clock struck again, "seven o'clock, and there's still a fog like this." And he lay there quietly a while longer, breathing lightly as if he perhaps expected the total stillness to bring things back to their real and natural state.
But then he said to himself: "Before it strikes quarter past seven I'll definitely have to have got properly out of bed. And by then somebody will have come round from work to ask what's happened to me as well, as they open up at work before seven o'clock." And so he set himself to the task of swinging the entire length of his body out of the bed all at the same time. If he succeeded in falling out of bed in this way and kept his head raised as he did so he could probably avoid injuring it. His back seemed to be quite hard, and probably nothing would happen to it falling onto the carpet. His main concern was for the loud noise he was bound to make, and which even through all the doors would probably raise concern if not alarm. But it was something that had to be risked.
When Gregor was already sticking half way out of the bed – the new method was more of a game than an effort, all he had to do was rock back and forth – it occurred to him how simple everything would be if somebody came to help him. Two strong people – he had his father and the maid in mind – would have been more than enough; they would only have to push their arms under the dome of his back, peel him away from the bed, bend down with the load and then be patient and careful as he swang over onto the floor, where, hopefully, the little legs would find a use. Should he really call for help though, even apart from the fact that all the doors were locked? Despite all the difficulty he was in, he could not suppress a smile at this thought.
After a while he had already moved so far across that it would have been hard for him to keep his balance if he rocked too hard. The time was now ten past seven and he would have to make a final decision very soon. Then there was a ring at the door of the flat. "That'll be someone from work", he said to himself, and froze very still, although his little legs only became all the more lively as they danced around. For a moment everything remained quiet. "They're not opening the door", Gregor said to himself, caught in some nonsensical hope. But then of course, the maid's firm steps went to the door as ever and opened it. Gregor only needed to hear the visitor's first words of greeting and he knew who it was – the chief clerk himself. Why did Gregor have to be the only one condemned to work for a company where they immediately became highly suspicious at the slightest shortcoming? Were all employees, every one of them, louts, was there not one of them who was faithful and devoted who would go so mad with pangs of conscience that he couldn't get out of bed if he didn't spend at least a couple of hours in the morning on company business? Was it really not enough to let one of the trainees make enquiries – assuming enquiries were even necessary – did the chief clerk have to come himself, and did they have to show the whole, innocent family that this was so suspicious that only the chief clerk could be trusted to have the wisdom to investigate it? And more because these thoughts had made him upset than through any proper decision, he swang himself with all his force out of the bed. There was a loud thump, but it wasn't really a loud noise. His fall was softened a little by the carpet, and Gregor's back was also more elastic than he had thought, which made the sound muffled and not too noticeable. He had not held his head carefully enough, though, and hit it as he fell; annoyed and in pain, he turned it and rubbed it against the carpet.
"Something's fallen down in there", said the chief clerk in the room on the left. Gregor tried to imagine whether something of the sort that had happened to him today could ever happen to the chief clerk too; you had to concede that it was possible. But as if in gruff reply to this question, the chief clerk's firm footsteps in his highly polished boots could now be heard in the adjoining room. From the room on his right, Gregor's sister whispered to him to let him know: "Gregor, the chief clerk is here." "Yes, I know", said Gregor to himself; but without daring to raise his voice loud enough for his sister to hear him.
Excerpted from "The Metamorphosis"
Copyright © 2013 Franz Kafka.
Excerpted by permission of Legend Times Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations vii
Translator's Note xv
The Text of The Metamorphosis 1
Texts and Contexts 49
From Wedding Preparations in the Country 51
Kafka, Max Brod and Editors on The Metamorphosis 52
Kapha's Contemporaries 69
From Venus in Furs Friedrich Nietzsche Leopold von Sacher-Masoch 69
From On the Use and Abuse of History 75
From Thus Spoke Zarathustra 78
From [The Lord Chandos Letter] Hugo von Hofmannsthal 83
Rainer Maria Rilke 86
Der Panther 87
The Panther 87
Archaïscher Torso Apollos 88
Archaic Torso of Apollo 88
The Condignog Johannes V. Jensen 89
From The Environment and Inner World of Animals Jakob von Uexkiill 95
From Franz Kafka Günther Anders 103
Kafka's "Metamorphosis": Rebellion and Punishment Walter H. Sokel 117
Transforming Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis" Nina Pelikan Straus 129
Sliding Down the Evolutionary Ladder? Aesthetic Autonomy in The Metamorphosis Mark M. Anderson 144
Creepy-Crawlies: The Metamorphosis and Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper Elizabeth Boa 161
From Photographic Metamorphoses Carolin Duttlinger 173
(A) Is for Animal: Speech and Voice in Ovid and Kafka Kári Driscoll 184
[A Few Raisins and Almonds] Dan Miron 196
Kafka: A Chronology 205
Selected Bibliography 209
What People are Saying About This
In some ways, there has never been a better time for Kafka's work than now. The last fifty years paved the way for [his] eerie beauty and seeming madness... 'The Metamorphosis,' 'In the Penal Colony,' and 'A Hunger Artist' are among the finest horror stories ever written. Seventy years after his death, art has finally begun to catch up with him.
“Kafka’s survey of the insectile situation of young Jews in inner Bohemia can hardly be improved upon: ‘With their posterior legs they were still glued to their father’s Jewishness and with their wavering anterior legs they found no new ground.’ There is a sense in which Kafka’s Jewish question (‘What have I in common with Jews?’) has become everybody’s question, Jewish alienation the template for all our doubts. What is Muslimness? What is femaleness? What is Polishness? These days we all find our anterior legs flailing before us. We’re all insects, all Ungeziefer, now.”
“Kafka engaged in no technical experiments whatsoever; without in any way changing the German language, he stripped it of its involved constructions until it became clear and simple, like everyday speech purified of slang and negligence. The common experience of Kafka’s readers is one of general and vague fascination, even in stories they fail to understand, a precise recollection of strange and seemingly absurd images and descriptions—until one day the hidden meaning reveals itself to them with the sudden evidence of a truth simple and incontestable.”
Contains approximately 23,000 words.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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!
This story is definitely very original and makes you think about its messages.
This is the only Kafka work that I truly liked. It's short, sweet, to the point, with in-depth themes.
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.
My understanding of the grand metaphor at play here is Kafka's feelings of alienation in his being absorbed by the creative act of writing. Thanks to this use of metaphor rather than a literal telling, this story could represent anyone's abruptly becoming their family's black sheep (or 'monstrous vermin', rather) for any reason - a new religious or philosophical conviction, a homosexual who comes out of the closet, or any other event that causes a sudden rift between oneself and one's family, to the extent the people you love and live with feel like they scarcely know you anymore. The stages are there: their initial reaction of horror and the shutting down of communication, grudgingly giving way to the family's sense of duty to acknowledge even its strangest family member, and then ... I'd imagine there's a few different paths after that. Maybe they can reconcile and accept, or maybe not.From Gregor's perspective there's the problem of his no longer being able to communicate with his family in return. He can no longer explain his wants or desires in any language they will understand because he has become entirely alien to them, and so he discovers his own ebbing of empathy for their perspective as well, like a memory in the act of being forgotten. This might be a good classic for adolescents, who so often feel isolated or misunderstood by their family (assuming it's properly introduced.) I read it while ill, an event that tends to skew one's priorities and values and so gave me my own way of relating - the sick invalid who temporarily lacks the same cares as his family around him, shut up in his room and not to be disturbed. Some parts were darkly humorous, but I can't say I found it comforting.
¿This was my first time reading Franz Kafka¿s `The Metamorphosis¿. My particular course of study did not encompass works of a philosophical nature, so this is new to me. For those of you that have not read The Metamorphosis, I don¿t want to get into too much detail, as I think it would spoil the impact that the book would have on you from the get go. Further to that, try not to Google it or read too much about it prior to picking it up- I promise you, the result will definitely be thought provoking, at the very least. In fact, I read that Kafka insisted that the main subject matter not be printed on the cover of the book- so as not to spoil the effect.After I finished reading it I wasn¿t really sure what I thought about it but after having a couple of days to ponder it- I¿ve decided that I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed Kafka¿s writing style; it was very simplistic and straight forward. Another aspect of the story that I liked was that the climax was at the beginning of the novel and the story develops from there. The protagonist¿s reaction to `the metamorphosis¿ itself was interesting to me, in the sense that there was no apparent alarm there and `the metamorphosis¿ was seen in the most pragmatic terms, all things considering. I think `Metamorphosis¿ was Kafka¿s view of human nature, how we tend to deny or bury unpleasantness and excuse our bad behaviour, especially with the support of others within our group or circle that happen to be guilty of the same bad behaviour and how society will come to terms, and even to accept injustices done to others. I think also, it could be symbolic of Kafka¿s own family experience? It¿s a quick little novella that would take you no time at all to read
Strange, not quite what I expected. I felt so sorry for poor Gregor - so selfless and yet, unappreciated by his family as a person. Then despised and seen as a burden once he can't support them all. I was disappointed that his parents and sister could so quickly forget that he was their son and brother and sole provider for years. Especially since he was beholden to the company he worked for only because of his parents' debt. Although Gregor didn't grasp how little his family thought of him through most of the story, I was glad he didn't or his feelings would have been even more hurt.I don't like bugs, especially roaches, so parts of the story grossed me out. But is was well worth the read!
Not the kind of story I usually read, but it kept my interest. I found this story to be funny in places, and a little sad.Gregor Samsa "woke up one morning from unsettling dreams" and "found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin". This is how the story starts, with its climax. The rest of the story goes on to tell about Gregor's new life as a bug, and how he and his family react.I am glad I read this story.
the family of Gregor provide a morbid, yet griping view of the human souls' capacity for compassion.
Better than I remembered. Gregor transformed from a miserable drone working for an unappreciative family and an unappreciative employer into a miserable bug who is forced to hide in his room from his family. This family, little by little, transforms themselves into actual living creatures. All get jobs, all "come out" of their shells (bad pun), all improve. Only Gregor declines and dies, never once feeling any resentment toward those who transformed him from a person into a bug by their parasitic dependence. Fantastic story, incredible matter-of-fact narration.
Like all great books there's something for everyone - in that I mean the many layers that exist can be pentrated (or not) depending upon your entry point, perspective or state of mind at the time of reading the novel. A bad dream, a schizophrenic nightmare you cant wake up from, the viscereal reaction of the community to a misunderstood or feared disease or the simply the sense that most people suck. The fact that the "the great one's" are thought to have found inspiration in this novel should tell you everything.
This book holds a special place in my heart because when I told my Dad I had become interested in bizarre/satirical literature, he went out by myself to a used book store and picked me up an old copy of the book. I came home to a copy of this book placed neatly on my pillow with a yellow post-it note from Dad that said, "Picked this up at a used bookstore. Enjoy, question, analyze; then we'll talk"
Seven out of ten. eBook.
A man awakes one morning to find that overnight he has transformed into a bug. Far from being suprised, himself and his family take it very much in their stride - not able to face him only because he represents what is clearly to be their demise (he is the only family member who provides income). He becomes progressively more bug-like as the story continues and the family lose the desire to care for him.
This book is an interesting twist on a classic short story. It is presented here as a graphic novel. The textual adaptation is well done and quite faithful to the original. The dark, moody drawings add to the gloomy atmosphere of the narrative. However, in some of the scenes, the sister is depicted as seeming a lot angrier and aggressive than I recall her being in the original story (although I did read that some five years ago now, so perhaps I am remembering incorrectly). Also, the beginning pictorial representations of Gregor as an insect seem more comic than I would have hoped for given the pathos of this story. However, as the story goes on and Gregor¿s condition worsens, the resulting drawings of the insect Gregor do look more lamentable so that makes up for the cartoonish beetle we see in the beginning.
A bit weird but interesting nonetheless. Kind of illustrates how relatively easy people find it to get used to extraordinary situations in next to no time, but the situation described is just too outlandish to be really convincing. It felt like I was reading an experiment in writing, which perhaps it was.
My first and only Kafka. I do have the version with other stories so perhaps they will pop up over the course of the year. Well written and I actually liked the story quite a bit even if it was strange, gross and sad.
A story that is short enough to read in a couple of hours, yet interesting and bizarre enough to stay with you for a lifetime. Amount gained from reading is incredible when compared to the short amount of time it takes to read.
Pretty crazy book. Guy turns into giant cockroach, nearly tears his family apart, grosses out readers across the world.
Probably the first thing you learn when you start a creative writing program is that you never ever start a novel with: "When I woke up this morning ...". Kafka's Metamorphosis starts with essentially that, but not in first person perspective. A clerk/office worker/ salesman wakes up one morning transformed into a bug. Most likely a cockroach, but whichever insect he transformed into isn't mentioned, and isn't important. His entire life Gregor Samsa has worked hard to support his mother, father and younger sister. He diligently accepts any task his office assigns to him and he does not spend a single penny of his earnings on himself. His first thought after waking up isn't: what the hell just happened to me, instead his first source of panic is the fact that he can't take care of his family anymore and that he can't fulfill his assigned social role. From the beginning of the novel the main character's reaction gives the text a humorous overtone, which does slowly dissipates as you get towards the ending. During the reading of the novel I felt that Kafka teases those who pick up the book to come up with possible conclusions, none of which are as depressing or as surprising as the one actually featured.The Metamorphosis is a novel that many scholars have studied for a long time and for which they have given many explanations and analyses. Granted the short story is written as a tease for intellectuals. But I'm not sure the text warrants this. One glaring piece of evidence comes from the edition of the book I read, in which scholars argue that the main character's name Gregor Samsa is an anagram for Kafka. In the same edition we find an account of Kafka in dialog with a friend who asked him about this idea upon which the great author responded: don't be absurd that's utter nonsense.Some argue that the novel is a form of social criticism in which Kafka magnifies roles and stereotypes to show the absurd expectations of the cultural atmosphere at the time. Gregor is a hard worker who does not question the tyranny and unrealistic expectations of his family and colleagues, a battle he can not win. For his blindness he is punished by being transformed into the physical incarnation of his family's already existing scorn. His eventual lot is to succumb to his unquestioned acceptance of his role and live out the lifeline laid out for vermin.
Loved it. I can't really put it any better than that. I grabbed it as a public domain ebook and read the thing on my lunch break. Darkly humorous, absurd yet relatable, and almost painfully mundane.
What a great story! Kafka's symbolism is absolutely fantastic. A master. I hope to read more of his work soon.
¿When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.¿ Ya gotta love that opening line. Who hasn¿t felt acute alienation from the world? That one is an outcast and is isolated to the point of being despised and ugly? Gregor the bug is Kafka the artist and Kafka the man. And Kafka was troubled: ¿If there were not these ghastly sleepless nights, I would not write at all. But in this way I am always conscious of my dark solitary confinement.¿ And: ¿Art for the artist is only suffering through which he releases himself for further suffering.¿Gregor has difficulty living up to the expectations of his father, has a tyrant for a boss, and feels guilt and shame. Published in 1915, these are modern, existential thoughts as Gregor/Kafka attempts to cope with what seems like a suffocating, absurd world. It¿s a little sad that Kafka was so tortured that these thoughts were in his head; I wonder what his domineering father thought when he read this book, and if he felt ashamed.Despite all of that great angst and the creativity that went into the concept of a man turning into a bug, I had only a lukewarm reaction to the book, and for me it¿s downhill after that first line. It is an important book and one that you should probably read once in your life, but I also think it¿s a bit over-analyzed. In the edition I have, for example, there a 12 page introduction, the 55 page text, and then 135 pages of notes, analysis, and letters. Don¿t get me wrong, I normally love that type of thing, Norton Critical Editions and all of that, but here the commentary often seems ¿off¿ in the sense of being over-thought.
I was disgusted and riveted.
Although Kafka isn't considered an existentialist author to the extent that Camus is, this novella is about a million times more compelling than 'The Stranger' could ever hope to be, and does what the 'The Stranger' was supposed to do: portray how terrifying the world is if there is no rhyme, reason, or fairness.
I find myself sort of going back and forth between a 3.5 and 4 star rating, what we have here is a brilliant little novella... but it would help if it were longer. I can't help but feel it would have benefited greatly from a little more material, would have made it feel far more complete. I still enjoyed this book tremendously, it was an incredibly interesting read. I also recommend picking up the edition with essays and analysis on the book, it really helps you better understand The Metamorphosis.