Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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Good morning readers, the slump is nearly over and I’m getting back into reading again *cheers.* It’s taken a little while this time to snap out of it, but, I’m getting there and it’s having an effect on T. He’s a little proud of his stack of books and we’re reading the same novels lending each other books and discussing more. It’s our thing and lazy Saturday morning’s reading in bed are perfection. Today’s book is one I read a little while ago but one I really enjoyed unravelling.

The Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It is often cited as one of the seminal works of short fiction of the 20th century and is widely studied in colleges and universities across the western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into an insect. Critics have interpreted Kafka’s works in the context of a variety of literary schools, such as modernism, magical realism, and so on. The apparent hopelessness and absurdity that seem to permeate his works are considered emblematic of existentialism.

A guess this is another classic book to add to my resume? I think that Kafka has really a interesting way of writing and I’ve toyed with reading more from this author. As you may know the book follows Gregor who wakes up to find that he has become an insect. The book follows Gregor as he struggles to live with his new body and identity and follows the themes of abandonment, alienation and human behaviour.

As you can imagine the book takes on a surreal and imagined world where it is quite normal to turn into said insect. Despite the shock of such a transformation Gregor is surprisingly accepting of his new appearance but it is instead his parents and the other people that he encounters that find it so difficult to come to terms with. As Gregor’s family become more frustrated, blaming Gregor for their financial problems and their inability to move to a smaller  house, their attitude towards him turns cruel and helpless.

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This book is studied a lot in terms of its meaning and it’s because there are many different interpretations. For me I think the book represents a long term illness, either mental or physical, and how as it continues feeling of trying to help said individual can turn to rage or helplessness. This is masked through Kafka’s literal writing of such an absurd situation. For me there’s some satirical about it, but it hides a darker, very important message. There are questions that arise through reading; why do Gregor’s parents seem far better off after the transformation? Were they reliant utterly on Gregor? If so why did it take the alienation of their son to take some weight from his shoulders. What does it all mean damn it!

You could go round and round in circles with this book and that’s why it’s so wonderful. There are so many different meanings and alternative thought processes as to what is really going on. In terms of the writing it’s a little basic but it’s about making the reading think for themselves. The ending truly is bittersweet and if you are yet to read this I will attempt not to spoil it but it truly is a very sad and ironic metamorphosis.

If you’re thinking of reading this book but are yet to get online and find a copy, it’s a very short read and it will make you think. I adore books that don’t give the reader exactly what they need to know but instead leave it open for the reader to pull apart. It’s a saddening tale but one that definitely speaks true in our current community; the feeling of alienation whether it’s homelessness, poverty or mental and physical health problems and the hollow feeling it creates. I hope this book is a warning and a lesson as to what can happen if we’re not so understanding of each other’s situations. A book with a real message and one you should definitely take some time to explore.

Linnnnnnnks

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  1. September 17, 2015 / 2:37 pm

    I studied this novella as part of my degree last year and really enjoyed it. My interpretation of the story was that Gregor’s metamorphosis represented the alienation he feels as being part of the proletariat.

    • September 17, 2015 / 2:38 pm

      Oooooo I hadn’t even thought of that! That would make a lot of sense actually!

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