Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

Not having read Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is an oversight that it took me years to address. It’s probably strange that this wasn’t the first Kafka work I’d read… I think most people read The Metamorphosis first and then move on to other tales or to Kafka’s novels. Yet what I’d heard about The Trial was much more compelling to me in the past, and I read that book last year. It wasn’t until this morning that I decided to pick up the beaten old copy of The Metamorphosis that I’d picked up a few weeks ago at the Foreign Book Shop in Itaewon and read it through in an hour-and-a-half. This is not a great feat, for in my edition the tale is a mere 60 pages long (or even less). Yet it felt like something I should have done years ago. It was an excellent story, perplexing to say the least but I also think I have some sense of what it is about. Not what it is all about, in that definitive way that high school English teachers talk about “great novels” but rather in the sense that, I guess, I understand what a guy like Kafka had to say. Prone to depression, not very lucky in love, plagued by strained relationships with his family, living as a foreigner… I’m not saying there are days when I feel like a cockroach, but I do think I have some idea where Kafka was coming from.

It’s probably a good thing that the next selection on my reading list is somewhat less depressing: an alternate history SF book by Kim Stanley Robinson, titled The Years of Rice and Salt. I’ll have more to say about it when I finish it… which should be a while, since it’s about 800 pages long.

2 thoughts on “Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

  1. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the Robinson book – I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now. The premise is absolutely fascinating.

  2. Well, Melissa…

    I am relieved in the part I’m reading so far. I thought that Robinson had scooped me on a novel I’d been wanting to write, where the Western plague happened much later… early-19th century. But reading this, I feel like the idea of my own novel was simply so small and tacky. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but right now I’m just in awe of Robinson’s imagination, and of the understatement of his writing. He handles a lot of it rather beautifully, at least as of page 54.

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