Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

March 28, 2013

About:
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is one of the author’s most famous novellas. The work was published after his death.

  • 76 pages
  • Publisher: Tribeca Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936594005

Book Review The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

My rat­ing for The Metamorphosis — 5

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More Books by Franz Kafka

Thoughts:
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a dark and disturbing tale. The story captured me from the first line “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug”. We know nothing about Gregor, who are what he is, and this strange opening simply breeds curiosity.

The story is relevant even today, which is why I believe this simple tale became a classic. The feeling of helplessness, escaping things which are difficult and /or beyond our control and make our humdrum lives easy and simple.
It is difficult to face the truth, and why would you want to unless you absolutely had to do so?

Kafka’s world (in this case a room) is dark and foreboding, with situations beyond anyone’s control. The individual battles against the powers-that-be (be they government, Kismet, G-d or just chance) is lost from the beginning and even if you’d won – it still wouldn’t make a difference.

I found the relationship of the protagonist and his family to be the most fascinating. In a short time he goes from being the humble breadwinner to a persona-non-grata. Even though his family looks down on him, Gregor still works at a job he doesn’t like simply because others are more important to him then himself. Gregor doesn’t have a “life”, simply goes to work, hands over his money to help his debt ridden family and thinks that this is the way things are.

Gregor seems to be the person everyone kicks around, his family is lazy, at his work he is humiliated and even though never missing a day of work he constantly feels as if he’ll get fired and now he is turned to a bug.

I did not expect this short story to be so deep, there are many themes condescend in a short space and between the lines. I would highly recommend this novella to anyone who likes to think into the deeper meaning of what is not written rather than a straight out narrative.

Synopsis:
This is the story of Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning and discovered he has turned into a giant bug. Gregor is worried because he overslept and missed his train for work. The metamorphosis is a metaphor for an illness a person is inflicted with which is outside their control.

Gregor is the sole breadwinner for his family and their reactions to his radical transformation are what makes the book both sad and disconcerting. Gregor’s family goes through grief, endurance, repugnance and sad of all, blaming Gregor himself and detesting what he has become.

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free.
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11 Comments

  • Alex Baugh March 28, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I love this book when I read it. I loved the way Kafka showed the reader how the most like a bug Gregor became, the more human he became and conversely, the more he became human, the more his family began to act less than human (throwing an apple at Gregor?- really) Kafka was always one of my favorite authors.

    You might want to try The Trial and The Castle if you liked The Metamorphis.

    • Zohar - Man of la Book March 29, 2013 at 7:47 am

      Thanks for the recommendations Alex. I agree that this short story carries a powerful punch.

    • Spangle (@KarenD2009) March 3, 2014 at 3:27 am

      I agree this is a book that I read many years ago at uni and I really enjoyed it. I would also recommend ‘The Trial’. Both books are dark and opressive in their mood.

  • Lynne Clark March 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I’ve heard of this before, but I really appreciated your thorough and thoughtful review. I love books that have a deeper meaning than simply the words on a page … I’ve now downloaded a copy to my Nook and will read it soon. Thanks for posting about it 🙂

    Have a Great and Wonderful Day!

  • Ryan March 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    This is one of those books that has always been on my radar, but I have yet to read. One of these days, I will do it, and this review did give me some inspiration to do so.

    • Zohar - Man of la Book March 29, 2013 at 7:50 am

      Glad you liked my review Ryan. Looking forward to reading what you have to say.

  • Sharon Henning March 28, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    I read this story years ago in high school (not for English, I read it on my own in math class-I think that says something about me:)
    I remember thinking that Kafka was writing a metaphor when someone or a group of people become rejected by society. They become culturally unacceptable. Looked on as vermin.
    I can think of many examples in history and today where this point applies.
    I never thought about it from your perspective. I still have my copy; I need to reread it.

  • Michael @ Literary Exploration March 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    I love the way Kafka writes, this was one of the first of his I read and found it rather profound. Have you read any of his other stuff?

  • Helen Maryles Shankman January 26, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I’ve never read this, but your review makes me want to seek it out. It sounds powerful.

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