Friday, February 5, 2010

The Metamorphosis


The Metamorphosis / Franz Kafka
Die Verwandlung. English
New York : Bantam Books, 1972
Originally published: 1915
Translated by Stanley Corngold
xxii, 201 p.

I read this book real quick this morning (I took the day off work) because a few days ago, I bought a couple Philip Roth novels to try the guy out. I grabbed The Human Stain because a librarian friend of mine is hosting a book group discussion on it next month, but I also grabbed The Breast because it was so short. Since The Breast has a similar plot to Kafka's novella, I thought it best that I actually read the thing like I neglected to do in high school. So I dug out my battered old mass market copy previously owned by "Vutti" and put off my shower for an hour.

So everyone knows the basics of the story: "When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin." Or whatever translated variant you've heard. The rest is about his family's reaction and what they have to go through while he's alive in this state.

Some of it is pretty silly, like how all he thinks about the morning this happens is how he has to get to work. I understand clinging to your last vestiges of normalcy to keep from going insane, but dude, you can't even roll over. And the family's (relatively) calm reaction is a bit unreal, but so it tuning into a bug, so ok.

I found the most interesting character in this to be not Gregor, but his sister Grete, who is the only non-bug character who undergoes a transformation. Gregor also changes, becoming increasingly resentful of his family's inability to accept that he's still in there. The parents do about what you'd expect, so what really made this story stand out and take its place in history, I think, were the siblings.

Anyway all of you already read this in high school probably so ok bye.

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