“One morning Gregor Samsa woke from anxious dreams to find himself transformed into a disgusting insect...” Thus opens one of the most famous books of the twentieth century, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.
Published in 1915, The Metamorphosis is written originally in German. It is a brief but extremely thought provoking novella. Readers and writers have termed it one of the most influential works of the century and hailed Kafka as the creator of a new form in literary tradition. Today, the book has been studied, analyzed and researched extensively by teachers, students and psychologists. It is seen as a tale which reflects how human beings view those who are stricken by illness or disability. It also causes us to think about our attitudes towards people of different sexual orientation, race, social and economic status.
Franz Kafka was a Czech writer who struggled to find his voice amidst the pressures and compulsions enforced by his strict father. He studied law but ultimately went to work in a government agency for a pittance, which however, allowed him to spend time on developing his passion for writing. He wrote The Metamorphosis in 1912 but it took the Herculean efforts of friends and well-wishers to finally persuade him to publish it, as he was so lacking in confidence in his own abilities.
The book met with instant success, bagging the prestigious Theodor Fontane Prize for German literature. Spurred by the acclaim and encouragement he received, Kafka went on to write a slew of short stories and novels. However, before many of them were published, Kafka tragically died at the age of just 41. His works, which included many letters to friends and his personal journals form part of his body of work. His close friend Max Brod did not heed his last wishes to destroy all his manuscripts and hence we are fortunate enough to still have access to the works of this great writer even today. Translations from the original German into other world languages is an ongoing feature of Kafka's work.
Gregor Samsa the unlikely hero of The Metamorphosis finds himself in a most bizarre, yet unexplained, situation when he wakes up as a revolting vermin. His family and friends cannot accept him and their subsequent behavior towards him forms the rest of this strange yet intensely poignant story.
As one of the most important turning points in modern literature, The Metamorphosis is indeed a great addition to your collection.