Format Read: Audible
This is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing—though absurdly comic—meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction.
Milou and I went to Prague in 2018. It was a honeymoon we had not planned ourselves but was a sort of surprise organized by her parents through a company called srprs.me. You can basically tell them of an area you have not ever been too and what you like and weather conditions. You then only get to know what type of clothes you need to pack a few days before departure and only an hour or so before you leave from the airport you find out exactly where you are going. When we saw Prague we were both pretty exited as it was already on our list of places to visit together.
We went there pretty broke as the wedding cost Milou a lot of money and me being from S.A were the money I had on me was not considered a lot as at the time 1 Euro was valued at around 17 South African Rand. It did not mean we did not have a nice time though. Prague is a beautiful place to see and experience, it holds a lot of history and the architecture was as beautiful as the movies make it out to be. We visited a few museums, had lunch in a cave, reached climbed a tower that was the highest point in that area, we also visited a library where it was forbidden to take pictures. We walked a lot for the short time we were there.
Why do I talk about Prague on a book review though? Well, it was on this trip that I first heard of Franz Kafka, being the book snobs Milou and I are we also visited a museum that told the life story of the man. It was not the biggest museum I’ve ever been too, but then again Prague is a pretty small place. It was interesting to see the life of a writer I never knew about and I decided there and then that I would make an effort to check out his work. I ended up reading A Hunger Artist while still in Prague and it has taken me just over 2 years to pick up the book that is synonymous when you read the name Kafka…
Metamorphosis is a pretty bleak book about a traveling salesman that wakes up one day and finds out to his horror that he has somehow turned into a giant bug, a cockroach is depicted on most covers of this book, I also figure it is the closest depiction of what Kafka was trying to describe. Seriously, who likes cockroaches? I know I am not a big fan of them ever since I watched the horror film Mimic at an age when I shouldn’t have. Not only that, but the fact that they are so hard to kill and are basically imune to radiation and just in general creep me the fuck out… Sorry, getting back to my review…
So Gregor Samsa wakes up and find out he is a giant bug, and while he is still trying to figure out how his new limbs work, he finds out that he is late for work and he has his father knocking on the door ordering to get ready as breakfast is waiting. Needless to say, the family soon find out Gregor is not the Gregor they all know and things take an unexpected turn. Gregor being the only one who brings home some form of income to uphold his family’s daily basic needs dreads not only upsetting the family, but can not help but feel what an utter failure he must look like in his parents’ eyes. All his hours of hard work to keep the family going is rendered useless because of one transformation that is never explained.
I can not comment on all the underlying symbology and all the literal significance of Metamorphosis. I can only say that I was pretty depressed going through the audio book. Even though it was meant as some form of absurd comedy, I just could not help but feel bad knowing what life Kafka read and how much of himself he put into his work, much like Hunger Artist which was written close to his death where Kafka could not eat because of the sickness that claimed his life. Metamorphosis was maybe a book taking an outrospective look at what it would be if he was not around? Life goes on and it was very apparent throughout the short story. The mom and dad and sister find ways to go around to keep themselves alive while Gregor fades away into nothing slowly, like I said pretty bleak stuff, but that did not mean I did not appreciate the book more. It is very relevant even by today’s standards even considering the current year we all have had. I know exactly what feelings Kafka was trying to convey throughout the story it was a very “holy shit, you get me” book for me.
Having written all I have in the above few paragraphs, I do not know if I do Kafka any justice. The man was so far ahead of his time in my eyes. I gave Metamorphosis a very biased 4 out of 5 on GR and can only recommend it to people that have previous work by him and know a little about the man himself, also to those that are looking for more “classics” to add to their TBRs. How awesome is this cover edition though?
Prague 2018 introducing Fat Dave…