“Was he an animal, that music could move him so? He felt as if the way to the unknown nourishment he longed for were coming to light.”
The other day I realized I completely forgot to read a book for the 2015 TBR pile challenge this month, so I decided to pick up my copy of The Metamorphosis. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect when I started reading this classic. It definitely wasn’t a story about a man who turns into an enormous bug! I don’t say it was a bad story, but I wasn’t blown away by it either. This novel by Franz Kafka is without doubt a quick read and I understand he was trying to make a philosophical study of how people react to a situation that changes everything… Still, I wasn’t completely convinced by it and I definitely don’t understand why The Metamorphosis is supposed to be one of the ‘most influential works of twentieth-century fiction’. I agree that a man who turns into an insect overnight is something that you don’t read every day, but ‘highly influential’? I’m not so sure about that.
Gregor Samsa is a travelling saleman trying to provide for his parents and younger sister. Everything works out perfectly until he wakes up one day not feeling quite himself. It turns out he was transformed into a gigant bug in his sleep! He has difficulties controlling his new unfamiliar body and his family is becoming increasingly worried as he hasn’t left for work and doesn’t open the door… When Gregor finally manages to open the door, they are completely shocked and disgusted by the new Gregor. They lock him into his room and leave him in isolation, with only his sister coming in sparingly to give him some food. The family has to find a new way of supporting themselves, and Gregor is soon seen as a burden rather than a family member.
The Metamorphosis was not a bad novel and it even had some funny moments, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it either. The prose is good, but I couldn’t really connect to the characters and I wasn’t convinced by the way the story ended. This novel by Franz Kafka is short and entertaining, but I’m not sure I would call it an influential classic. Still, I’m glad I’ve finally read it; at least I know now what all the fuss is about.