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Metamorphosis and Other Stories: Works Published In Kafka's Lifetime (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 3 Feb 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (3 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182520
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 608,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Concerned father on 15 Aug 2003
Format: Paperback
This book has been taking up space in my cupboard for a few months, since I had to read metamorphosis for my English degree. Yesterday I picked it up again, having graduated, and have only put it down since to write this.
Kafka is perhaps the most brilliant writer of the last century in perception and the way he can imaginatively express his ideas. 'Metamorphosis' is the most famous tale here, using the central metaphor of a man who awakes to find himself transformed into an insect, but the other stories have just as much to offer.
I was particularly surprised by the early 'Meditations' that appear here. The Editor notes that Kafka told his publisher to stop printing them, embarassed by what he saw as his early failings. This view is not born out by the shorts that appear here, each one taking a situation, observing the human behaviour taking place with humour but sympathy. Kafka makes the reader aware of the absurdity of his characters actions, but at the same time we are led to inherently understand the reasons for them. He never sacrifices a basic humanity.
'The Judgement' and 'The Stoker', the latter of which is the first chapter of the uncompleted novel 'Amerika', are strikingly effective stories. Any fans of Ishiguros 'The Unconsoled' should read these to see where that writers style comes from.
Kafka seems to be able to render the uncertainties, and lurking terror in the commonplace situations that take place in the modern world, in a light which every reader can share in. He expresses the inexpressible, instinctive doubts that anyone can feel at certain times. The unlikely situation of the one page parable, 'The Sudden Walk', is perhaps my favourite, as he depicts the sudden euphoria of taking action, in however small a respect.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Phil Glew on 17 July 2005
Format: Paperback
Although the creepiness of this short by Franz Kafka is apparent from the opening, disturbing paragraph, its true weirdness isn't made clear until halfway through the story. Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman, awakes one morning to find that he has been transformed into a hideous "insect" - cleverly, in true Kafka style, we never find out what type of insect he has metamorphosized into, our only insights are Kafka's various detailed descriptions of Gregor's feelings and physical apperance to his family... and himself. The style of this extremely enjoyable novel is reminiscent of his unfinished work, The Trial in which a man is on trial for an unknown reason (and it works well).
Struggling to hold his family together, the weirdness and fierceness of this story is now made apparent. Gregor's father attacks him - causing a turning point within the story as we now see Gregor's family resent his condition.
We never find out why or how Gregor has transformed but again, like in The Trial it simply doesn't matter. Using little direct speech, Kafka has woven Gregor's horror and disgust with his family's despair and fright to make a totally impossible situation seem almost real. The fact the only setting is Samsa family's apartment makes the atmosphere disturbing and creepy(very isolated and tense).
Gregor's family depended on him for money and therefore, as I think Kafka is trying to say, a bearable life. Gregor has to witness his family's downfall silently (literally, as he has lost the ability to talk), his only communication being indirect (I mean, with no speech) with his sister and the cleaner who visits him room ocassionally to clean and bring food. We see the Samsa family fall rapidly and become unable to cope with Gregor any longer.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bruno VINE VOICE on 3 April 2006
Format: Paperback
Metamorphosis is one of the most famous works in world literature, and possibly has the most memorable opening lines in the history of story telling, - 'As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning after disturbing dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect'. A standard interpretation of this allegorical tale is that Gregor's transformation from hard working travelling salesman, providing for his family, to a grotesque useless insect that provokes disgust and pity and ultimately rejection by his family, represents physical disability, and society's treatment of it. I can see this in the story, but I read Kafka as essentially portraying his nightmare of the barrier between the public and personal inner world being removed. The private mental life, with its sensitive and raw secrets, its ugly and embarrasing little features, the desires and instincts that we strive to keep hidden, and/or are forced to repress. The bug is the embodiment of the ugly and raw inside turned out, exposed for all the world to see. Particularly nightmarish for Gregor (kafka) is the fact that those who see are those he loves and whose rejecton he fears most of all - his family.
That a short story of less than one hundred pages allows so many interpretative possibilities stands as a testament to Kafka's unique power to draw the reader into a hypnotic world of dark archetypal imagery. Upon finishing this novella, you may feel as though awoken from disturbing dreams, dreams that will nevetheless have cast some strange new light on your waking day.
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