Saturday, May 6, 2017

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

genre: novella, fiction

Gregor Samsa has a problem.  He woke up one morning and found, to his surprise, that he'd changed into a bug overnight. On the outside he now looked like some kind of huge nasty bug, but on the inside? He's still Gregor.  And he can't speak but he still has to interact with his family and that's tricky.  Because not only is he silent but he now LOOKS LIKE A BUG.  It doesn't go particularly well for him even as he allows himself to try and use this new body to create surroundings that he feels comfortable in - since he doesn't live in a vacuum, he has to rely on the patience and kindness of others, not the best position to be in when you're a bug.

Woah.  This story.  It's incredibly readable, rather gut-renching sad and also, obviously, a bit strange. Magical realism? To be sure.  No one seems particularly freaked out that he's an insect now, they just think it's a giant shame.  I found the way Gregor's family reacted very interesting - no doubt it is symbolic of his own relationships and his own feelings within the sphere of Kafka's personal life.  When I finished I immediately wanted some analysis beyond what I could tease out myself, and in my reading I wasn't surprised to read how deeply and frequently the story is studied in school - so many themes and ideas to discuss in here. Kafka certainly created a rich and layered text within a rather simple story.

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