The Metamorphosis

Surreal Point of View

By Franz Kafka
Translated by Stanley Corngold
Austria-Hungary, 1915
Short Story, Absurdist, Slipstream, Philosophical

Main Attractions

Franz Kafka1. 1st person narrator is a creepy bug.
2. He is very confused to be a bug.
3. Well crafted descriptions and inner dialogue.
4. Cool and unfortunate plot line.
5. Terrible family members.
6. Mistaken priorities among everyone.
7. Vivid descriptions throughout.
8. Creative thinking!
9. Very simple setting.
10. A metaphor for real life situations.

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Dessert Bar
On the surface, our narrator wakes up to discover he isn’t himself.  That’s it.  The conflict is he struggles in his new ‘skin’ and his family wants nothing to do with.  Simple, right?

Nope.  The descriptions and 1st person point of view make this story so deep!  It’s a rabbit hole that only leads to more dens and burrows.  The relative simplify of this book, compared to Kafka’s other books, makes it a great introduction to his writing style.

Destination Summary

Thug Notes gives a light hearted synopsis and analysis, with spoilers!
Why Visit Here?

It’s very unnerving to read this because it’s about alienation from a 1st point of view.  The narrator is telling the reader what it’s like to be shuffled out of society and even their own family.  And even to lose touch with one’s own body and have to re-find their own space in the world.  It’s very deep stuff.  

It’s very short and a lot is compacted into it.  I think if you take the time to unpack some of those thoughts, it can enrich your reading of other longer books where the narrator is struggling with their place in society.  This is a common theme in novels.  So common that almost all characters struggle with this theme in one form or another and to to varying degrees.  

Many novels don’t directly focus on alienation, but they all show conflict.  I wonder if Metamorphosis can enrich these novels as well?  Can impact one’s reading of unrelated novels?  Such as, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hunger Games or even Gone With the Wind?  What would these novels look like through the lens of Metamorphosis?  

Off the Beaten Path

Here’s a 3 minute video about the butterfly transformation.  It shows some semi-rare macro views.  I include it because, we celebrate the butterfly transformation because we like butterflies.

Biography of Kafka.  Fascinating and heartbreaking look at his life and work.  Great intro for preparing to read his books ^.^ It contains spoilers for Metamorphosis and The Hunger Artist.  I’d recommend watching after you’ve read The Metamorphosis.  

Packing List
✓ Pictures of bugs, the yucky kind
✓ Kafka’s Biography for insight after reading
✓ Tea in bed with a comfy blanket
✓ Dim lighting, all hospital like

Recommended Resources:
Alternate Books
Hunger by Knut Hamsun (1890) - Internal thoughts of self-loathing writer.  He self-imposed suffering.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951) - Narrator searches for his place in society, finds bleak phoniness

✓ Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk - *guilt* I’ll read it and chime an update.

Alternate Movies
✓ The Machinist (2004) Directed by Brad Anderson, Starring Christian Bale - Surreal, psychological battle with oneself.

✓ Fight Club (1999) Directed by David Fincher, Starring Edward Norton & Brad Pitt - The twisted ending is sure to mimic the crushing ending of Metamorphosis 

✓ The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) - Directed by Kasi Lemmons, Starring Samuel L. Jackson - We see the homeless man’s thoughts and possible delusions.  They are haunting and he’s extremely gifted musically.  He’s alienated from society and not taken seriously when he tries to solve a murder case.

✓ Where the Wild Things Are (2009) - Directed by Spike Jonze - Far more positive take on alienation.  Turning it into imagination and creation.