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The Metamorphosis

By: Franz Kafka

“The Metamorphosis” is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915 and one of his best known works. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into a horrible verminous creature. Terrifying in its banal simplicity, it became one of the seminal works of the twentieth century. This Translation is by Ian Johnston.

Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a "monstrous vermin". He initially considers the transformation to be temporary and slowly ponders the consequences of this metamorphosis. Unable to get up and leave the bed, Gregor reflects on his job as a traveling salesman and cloth merchant, which he characterizes as being full of "temporary and constantly changing human relationships, which never come from the heart". He sees his employer as a despot and would quickly quit his job had he not been his family's sole breadwinner and working off his bankrupt father's debts. While trying to move, Gregor finds that his office manager, the chief clerk, has shown up to check on him, indignant about Gregor's unexcused absence. Gregor attempts to communicate with both the manager and his family, but all they can hear from behind the door is incomprehensible vocalizations. Gregor laboriously drags himself across the floor and opens the door. The manager, upon seeing the transformed Gregor, flees the apartment. Gregor's family is horrified, and his father drives him back into his room under the threat of violence.

 

With Gregor's unexpected incapacitation, the family is deprived of their financial stability. Although Gregor's sister Grete now shies away from the sight of him, she takes to supplying him with food, which they find he can only eat rotten. Gregor begins to accept his new identity and begins crawling on the floor, walls and ceiling. Discovering Gregor's new pastime, Grete decides to remove some of the furniture to give Gregor more space. She and her mother begin taking furniture away, but Gregor finds their actions deeply distressing. He desperately tries to save a particularly-loved portrait on the wall of a woman clad in fur. His mother loses consciousness at the sight of Gregor clinging to the image to protect it. As Grete rushes to assist her mother, Gregor follows her and is hurt by a medicine bottle falling on his face. His father returns home from work and angrily hurls apples at Gregor. One of them is lodged into a sensitive spot in his back and severely wounds him.

Book Details

Language

English

Original Language

German

Published In

1915

Author

Franz Kafka

Kingdom of Bohemia(Czech Republic)

Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work fuses elements of realism and the fantastic...

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