Great Book: Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka

I read one too many Kafka references and finally had to bump this to the top of the list, ahead of the current crop of GBs(Dante, Bocaccio, Aeschlyus, Arendt, Achebe - thank you SPL).

It's about a man who turns into a cockroach. What's not to like?

Wait. Sigh. OK. Here's where I confront my fears of sounding like an idiot because of other people already having said everything interesting about books like this.

Kafka seems to have had some kind of wide-ranging literary influence that I, frankly, have only heard about. Kafka, Kafka, Kafka! I expected Metamorphosis to be depressing. Instead it was depressing and amusing. Poor Gregor has a job he doesn't like and a family he doesn't seem to enjoy much either. At least when he turns into a giant bug it gives him another set of problems to worry about.

The intensity and minuteness of the experience leave no doubts - this is not a dream, this is really happening. Who hasn't feared that something like this would happen to them, or that it has already happened, and that we are giant despised liabilities to our families and friends. Haven't we all felt like vermin at some point?

There was some commentary at the back of the edition I read that discussed the religious metaphors and the paralells to tuberculosis. I think the intrinsic surface message of Gregor's transformation is far more interesting and poignant.


Maxine said...

I loved reading this post. I read the book years ago, and I much prefer your take on it to the religious etc metaphors.

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