The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
Reading Challenge Category: A book in translation
THE METAMORPHOSIS (German: Die Verwandlung, also sometimes translated as The Transformation) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It has been called one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century and is studied in colleges and universities across the Western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself trans¬formed (metamorphosed) into a large, monstrous insect-like creature. The cause of Gregor's transformation is never revealed, and Kafka himself never gave an explanation. The rest of Kafka's novella deals with Gregor's attempts to adjust to his new condition as he deals with being burdensome to his parents and sister, who are repelled by the horrible, verminous creature Gregor has become.
When I was living in Germany as part of my degree, we had to read books and report back to the university. So, when I saw Die Verwandlung and how thin it was, I thought this would be an excellent ‘cheat’ option. They had only told us to read a number of books, not a certain amount of pages! However, when I picked up the little yellow book and started to read, I had my trusty dictionary there with me, but I couldn’t make any sense of what was going on. A man had turned into a beetle, and it just didn’t make sense so I assumed I was translating it wrong, read the book as best I could and moved on. Years later, I started to hear about the infamous book by Kafka about a man that turns into an insect. The revelation for me that my German hadn’t been as bad as I had thought was tremendous. I had understood the German all those years ago just not the crazy story. So when the category for ‘a book in translation’ was on the Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenge I decided it was time to give this book a go in English and see what it was all about. My realisation? It is as crazy as it seemed in German! I’m sure there is supposed to be a hidden meaning in everything that was happening to Gregor, but I just couldn’t get it, I’ve never been good at looking at meanings of books. I like to take them for how they are. Whilst reading this, I was once again appreciative of its short length. It is only 62 pages long, so I knew my torture wouldn’t last long. It was undoubtedly miserable to read. Not a lot happens after the first few pages when Gregor is getting used to his transformation. The rest of the book is about him being hidden away and his family struggling with what has happened. I can’t say I enjoyed this English version any more than I did all those years ago when I read the German one. However, at least I can tick it off my list and know that I wasn’t going mad when I just couldn’t get the translations right. It really was a man that had become a beetle for no reason.
- The Metamorphosis
- Date Started
- 8th May 2020
- Date Finished
- 8th May 2020
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