Friday, March 13, 2009

The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

One day, back in my youth, I decided to get me some culture. I was an avid science fiction fan and I had heard that there was this book--actual literature--about a man who turned into a cockroach. I determined to get a copy of that book and see how the author was able to transform such a concept into something that would be studied by university professors and the like. What fascinating cause did he devise for such a change? How deftly could he explain the biological differences between insect and mammal or the physical consequences of the mutated form? What excitement awaited as the protagonists unravelled the puzzle and either killed or saved the immense man-bug? I was disappointed. I procured a copy of the book, The Metamorphosis, and tried to devour it like an Isaac Asimov or Harlan Ellison tale. It was boring! Not one bit of pseudo-science! No explanation at all as to why this shmoe was roached. And let me tell you, Gregor Samsa made for one pathetic giant insect. I read the book once and let it gather dust.

Well, about twenty years have passed and now I've had to read the story again, as part of my daughter's schooling. I'm happy to report that I have grown up a bit. I may still find Mothra more entertaining, but I was able to appreciate the depth of the tale that escaped my younger self. It's a rather depressing tale, but quite human. Of course, the multitude of essays that compose the final two-thirds of the Bantam Classics edition are still boring. I don't know if that's because I'm still to stupid to understand them, or if maybe I've grown to wise to be impressed by such intellectual endeavors.

Check it out, if you're old enough.
LibraryThing link


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