I adore Kafka's work, especially his short stories, and this novella is one of my favorites. As a reader, his recurring theme of alienation has always struck a chord with me; as a writer, his superb craftsmanship has always been an inspiration to me. I also find his personal story one of literature's most quietly tragic (Poor lonely Franz...), but that's a story for another post. I love the way Kafka combines mundane reality with out-of-this world fantasy, which is certainly showcased in The Metamorphosis. One of the main reasons I love this story is that Kafka never explains why Gregor is turned into a bug. I think that would have ruined this story, because, really, the fact that he is a bug is one of the least of his problems, though it does complicate things. Kafka, instead, focuses his attention on the fall-out from Gregor's change, and the result is a tragic, absurd, disturbing allegory, though exactly what Kafka is allegorizing is fodder for endless debate.
Gregor is a somewhat pathetic character that I can't help pitying, but his dysfunctional family and their reactions to his state are also key components of this story--ones that are both amusing and heartbreaking. Their vain attempts to cope with Gregor's transformation forms a vital crux of this novel, particularly the ever-present alienation theme. The tragicomic interactions between Gregor and his relatives, and the world around him in general, are the highlight of this story, precisely because they ring true. I also love the surreal atmosphere that Kafka creates with his droll, meticulous style. This novella amuses me, saddens me, and creeps me out all at once. I never can read it without getting that creepy-crawly feeling I get when a bug crawls on me. (I have to read this several times this week for lit. to prepare for quizzes. This is making my homework sessions memorable...)
Though I love this story, I will admit: It's weird. It may be a bit too weird for everyone's personal taste. (I once read a comment on Sparklife that said certain things just should not be thought up. And Kafka's The Metamorphosis was one of them.) I disagree with the aforementioned sentiment--obviously. I love the originality of Kafka and think the uniqueness of his work is the point. But I can't deny that his work, and this story in particular, won't freak you out.
I highly recommend Kafka's The Metamorphosis, if only because the premise is so innovative and the execution of it is so masterful. Kafka is one of the premier voices in modernist literature...and for good reason. If you've never read Kafka before, this thirty page novella is the perfect introduction.
Next Week: Not sure. My schedule is going to get crazy. Maybe a review. Maybe a list. We'll see. If it is a list, it will probably be a list of the books I'd want with me if I were shipwrecked.
However, as busy as I will be, you can catch up with me at my second blog: Grammatically Motivated. I have been meaning to start a second blog, to post non-book related articles, but haven't had time. My faulty logic is that now that I am going to have limited time, it may be easier to write articles that don't require me to read ahead of time. Tis the theory, anyway...
Also, I am thinking about ending "The Unblogged Chronicles". I have been disappointed with this series. I think they're too long without being in-depth enough and lack a unifying theme. Therefore, I am considering halting that series. Any thoughts? Want me to kill the "Chronicles" or do you request mercy?
Don't forget: I can pester you on Twitter now. :D