Metamorphosis and Other Stories

metaTitle: Metamorphosis and Other Stories

Author: Franz Kafka

Summary: Metamorphosis is one of the most terrifying stories ever written. a man wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. Kafka describes his reactions and the reactions of his family—at first horrified, then kind, wrathful, despising, and finally negligent. This haunting parable on human reaction to suffering and diseases has already become a classic.

Other stories in this volume, which contains the best of Kafka’s short stories, are The Great Wall of China, Investigations of a Dog, The Burrow, In The Penal Settlement, and The Giant Mole.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 2.5/5

Review: I had never read Kafka before, but Metamorphosis has been on my to-read list for quite a while. When i picked up this copy that includes several other short stories i was rather chuffed. Chuffed only lasted through the first story and a couple of pages into the second, unfortunately.

Metamorphosis itself was wonderfully dark and depressing. Through Gregor’s slow realisation that something is seriously wrong and how the people around him react there are so many things to consider. Gregor himself is the one affected by the metamorphosis, but he seems constantly to worry only about his family, despite their increasingly neglectful and hostile reaction to him. Very much a morbid story, but one i found rather fascinating.

The next three stories, The Great Wall of China, Investigations of a Dog and The Burrow, are where my problem with this book really lies. Rather than stories, i found them to be in the style of essays. Told mostly in first person (though occasionally drifting into third), these pieces discuss and analyse various concepts. Two of them from the point of view of an animal, but i think drawing on ideas from human life and putting them in an alternative context. I actually found the concepts discussed and Kafka’s general approach to them very interesting. However. I found the overall writing and the failed attempt at a story-like narrative rather dull. With no driving plot, no characters and no no dialogue, the entire pieces dragged. I mean really, when one paragraph stretches over four pages, it’s just ridiculous.

Things picked up again with In The Penal Settlement, which was much more of an actual story and felt like a breath of fresh air after the previous three essays. It was my favourite of all the stories in this book, but i’m still not sure if that was the story itself, or simply the relief it gave me.

If i ever read any more of Kafka’s work, it will be with more thorough research into what i’m getting myself into: story or essay. Either way i think it could be interesting and enjoyable, i would just much rather be prepared!

This knocks one square off my Bookish Bingo: Originally written in a different language.

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About Wendleberry
I'm odd.

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