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Review: Metamorphosis by Kafka

28 Feb

When I wrote For Daniels Benefit, I had never read Kafka’s short story Metamorphosis nor was I familiar with the details as I was with George Orwells Animal Farm. Yet people assumed I had read it due to the transformations – the metamorphosis – of the staff working for Southborough Council. I can understand where comparisons come from on a superficial level.

I’ll be honest though. When I did start reading Metamorphosis in January on my Kindle, I found the start of the story very uninspiring. Rather dense and lifeless. It didn’t spark. I kept reading though because it was one of those books the literati declare must be read and, after all, it was only a short story. Gradually Kafka’s sense of humor and ability to observe human behavior won me over. By story’s end, don’t worry I won’t spoil it, I was very saddened by what had happened to the protagonist. Most fiction has a conflict and resolution, often happy, Kafka brings a sense of realism to his fantasy.

If you can get through the opening pages to develop a connection with the characters, Metamorphosis is an absorbing read and certainly one I would recommend. My fiancée has a graphic novel version of Kafkas ‘The Trial’ and I will probably read that sometime soon following my enjoyment of this story.

Below I have attached an animated version of the first third of the story which I feel captures my impression of the tale vividly. I watched a few of the live action videos but none really caught my imagination, but this little animated one is spot on. Obviously, it will spoil plot elements of the first third but may interest you in reading the whole story.

If you have any favorite audio or video telling of the story feel free to share it in the comments below, as well as your first impressions on reading this so definitively ‘Kafka’ story.

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3 Comments

Posted by on February 28, 2011 in Fiction, Reviews

 

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3 responses to “Review: Metamorphosis by Kafka

  1. marc nash

    February 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I’m a huge Kafka fan so am probably biased. But I think this may just be the greatest ever short story written. In amongst the humanity and the family relationships is a richness of symbols that leave vapour trails underpinning the exact nature of the relationships between the family members. Plus the central image of the giant bug itself and all the self-loathing – just fabulous.

     
  2. John Wiswell

    March 1, 2011 at 4:56 am

    Hadn’t read much of your non-fiction before and was a little surprised to see how little formalism and how much gut you applied here. Not that those are bad things. I recall enjoying Kafka’s opening because it’s so brusque. There’s no explanation for the eponymous transformation, and instant absurd angst. I could see that angst turning so people off, but for it’s time it was novel on par with Twain’s story about the talking blue jay.

     
    • EZE

      March 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm

      Marc – I would certainly consider myself intrigued by Kafka. I liked the ideas expressed in the story just probably read it at the wrong time to fully enjoy it. You do feel such strong emotions of disgust and pity for the central character in the course of the story.

      John – I’m not sure what you mean by formalism and gut, I’d appreciate you tweet me what you meant. When reviewing books, and I’ve written longer reviews for books that were more engaging for me, I don’t try to play the ‘critic’ but simply give my reaction as a reader, like a referral between friends. I do think the opening is interesting in it’s brusqueness, certainly very brave, I think the choice of vocabulary and style just caught me off a little bit. But as I’ve said, once I got into it I enjoyed reading it through.

      If you have any particular Kafka stories you would recommend, I’m planning to download a fresh bunch of stories on my Kindle in the next couple of weeks. Suggestions welcome!

       

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