Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Metamorphosis (1915)

Original title: Die Verwandlung

Author: Franz Kafka | Page Count: 61

"In the hall, he stretched his right hand out towards the stairway as if out there, there were some supernatural force waiting to save him."

Gregor Samsa goes to bed as normal. He has a routine and he sticks to it. He wakes transformed into a hideous insect. Life gets complicated. Firstly, he can’t get to work looking like a Naked Lunch extra, and that pisses him off. Gregor tries to live his life as normal, but even the smallest change in his behaviour or his environment has a domino effect in the world around him and he’s forced to adapt or suffer. He soon realises that to be a burden is a terrible thing, which is worse than having tiny legs and an inability to get to work on time.

I'm trivialising it, but why not? There have been more than enough overly complex critical appraisals elsewhere. Marxist? Jungian? Post-wankerism? It’s not necessary. (Your English tutor would have a hernia.) I'm trying to show that despite being arty-farty literature it can be enjoyed by all.

However, unless you can read German your only option is to read the text in translation like I did and that means relying to a large degree on the translator for the flow of the narrative. The translation I read seemed very simplistic at times, almost childlike, which had the effect of making the revelatory moments seem all the more powerful. German has the participle at the end of the sentence, so there was some necessary shuffling of words in English and consequently subtle meaning may have been similarly shuffled.

I doubt even the arty-farty critics can contextualise every part of this work; its surface simplicity means it’s open to numerous interpretations, all of which are valid as far as I'm concerned. Take from it what YOU want and to hell with everyone else (including this review). One thing I noticed that I thought was important to a reading: It's not just Gregor's story. With that in mind, subsequent readings may raise my score. Until then:

4 days off work due to a bad case of the bug out of 5

Note: Due to its age, The Metamorphosis is in the public domain and can be found online at Project Gutenberg, or similar sites.

1 comment:

Impudent Urinal said...

His family were remarkably quick to assume he was the roach rather than thinking the huge ass roach didn't eat him.