ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Czech novelist and short-story writer. He was born in 1883 in Prague.
Kafka was regarded as one of the prominent figures in twentieth-century literature. In fact, the term Kafkaesque is now used to describe the typical situations one encounters in Kafka’s works. It is noteworthy that Kafka had a troubled relationship with his father and this was often reflected in his novels.
Kafka had studied law and used to work as an insurance agent. It was in his leisure hours that he used to write. His most notable works include The Metamorphosis, The Castle, and The Trial.
Tuberculosis brought about his untimely death, at the age of forty. Most of his works would be published posthumously.
The Metamorphosis is the story of a young man, Gregor Samsa, who wakes up one day as a vermin akin to a cockroach.
Samsa worked as a traveling salesman for a textile company. He wasn’t particularly fond of his job because of its strenuous and demanding nature. However, given his financial obligations, he had no choice but to work. His parents had a debt and, as the sole working member in the family, it fell upon Samsa to pay it off.
After recovering from the initial shock, Samsa’s family accepts him. He eventually comes to terms with his extraordinary circumstances. His sister, Grete, turns into his primary caregiver. With no source of income left and a financial crisis looming large, his parents and sister are forced to take up menial jobs. Soon, they start neglecting Samsa.
As the days pass by, the family begins to see him as more of a liability. This forces a frustrated Samsa to take drastic measures.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT THE METAMORPHOSIS (MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS)
Even by Kafka’s lofty standards, The Metamorphosis is an out-and-out masterpiece. A seemingly simple story with several complex interpretations, the novel explores family dynamics under duress. It also delves into the Metamorphosis of one of its key characters, besides many other theories.
After the family starts seeing Samsa as a burden, readers cannot help feeling his confusion, denial and pain. However, one can still empathize with the family’s dilemma and frustration. An unexpected change in Grete’s personality also adds to the intrigue.
The Metamorphosis has a fairly simple but captivating narrative style. The first sentence used in the book’s English translation continues to be a subject of debate as different translators have translated the German word ungeziefer as a gigantic insect, a giant bug, a vermin, and so on.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER ABOUT THE METAMORPHOSIS
Probably the only flaw in this otherwise impeccable novella is that the story is nowhere as straightforward as it might seem. As mentioned before, the book is prone to multiple interpretations. But then again, it is these very intricacies that make The Metamorphosis a gem of a book.
One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.
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.
Ameya highly recommends The Metamorphosis to its readers. As a novella, the book is rather short and the story simple. At the same time, the plot is twisted enough to keep the readers thinking well after they have put the book down.
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