The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis

byFranz Kafka

Kobo ebook | September 8, 2016

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Kafka’s The Metamorphosis 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. 

Plot : 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 completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes." With this startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first opening, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing -- though absurdly comic -- meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction. As W.H. Auden wrote, "Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man."

In its construction, The Metamorphosis 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.

With so many layers to it, The Metamorphosis 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. 

Title:The MetamorphosisFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:September 8, 2016Publisher:Anchalee RuangjitLanguage:English

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