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The Metamorphosis, in the Penal Colony and Other Stories: The Great Short Works of Franz Kafka

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  11,070 ratings  ·  199 reviews
Translated by PEN translation award-winner Joachim Neugroschel, The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories has garnered critical acclaim and is widely recognized as the preeminent English-language anthology of Kafka's stories. These translations illuminate one of this century's most controversial writers and have made Kafka's work accessible to a whole new g ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 22nd 2000 by Touchstone (first published 1915)
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This very short story has been published on its own, as a chapter in his novel The Trial ( and in the collection The Country Doctor.

It's a short, allegorical tale on one of Kafka's key themes: judgement. (He studied law at university, and went on to work in insurance, investigating personal injury claims.)

"The law... should be accessible to everyone and at all times."

A man comes seeking justice (the reason is not stated), and the door to justice is open,
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
"Before the Law stands a doorkeeper. To this doorkeeper there comes a man from the country and prays for admittance to the Law. But the doorkeeper says that he cannot grant admittance at the moment. The man thinks it over and then asks if he will be allowed in later. 'It is possible,' says the doorkeeper, 'but not at the moment.' Since the gate stands open, as usual, and the doorkeeper steps to one side, the man stoops to peer through the gateway into the interior. Observing that, the doorkeeper ...more
His works are often ambiguous and vague in defining purpose or moral meaning. Instead, there's a cacophony of events, images, and multifaceted characters that you learn to love and hate, relate to, and at the same time feel compelled to distance yourself from.

He presents emotions, situations, and characters, which no matter how foreign in behavior, or state of mind, retain an unmistakable and comical resemblance to human nature. He takes what we all already “know” somewhere in our subconscious
Sidharth Vardhan
Justice delayed is justice denied. However someone seeking justice has only an amazing uncertain hope as he waits justice and has to invest his time and money to achieve it- something which should be his natural right, sometimes he must wait all his life fruitlessly. A great allegory (included in 'The Trail') on what a seeker of justice has to o go through.
Sanjay Gautam
As usual the story was KAFKAESQUE. Better read it, its a very short one, though thought provoking.
This is a non-objective-emotionally-laden-I'm-so-damn-glad-to-be-done-with-this-book review...

I've owned this book for long enough to have forgotten how I acquired it. I chose to read it now because "The Penal Colony" was mentioned in Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, which I read a month or so ago. I skipped right to "The Penal Colony" and enjoyed it. Then I put the book down. It sat on my bedside table giving me the kind of looks young orphans give to potential adoptive parents. I tried to ignore
I have often been told I should read Franz Kafka. I've been told by people I know, or by introductions in other books, or from lists of classics I should read. So one day not long ago as I was browsing in a bookstore I came across "The Metamorphosis and Other Stories" and I bought it. Now I've read my first Kafka. The amount of stars it is getting is still up in the air for now. The first story in the book is "The Metamorphosis", of course it would be first, and as I start reading the first line ...more
Striving to understand the frequent usage of "Kafkaesque" to describe a proliferation of things literary, I found a nice bargain copy of this translation of Kafka many moons past. I'm unsure if I accomplished my goal, being left wondering if I need to read The Trial to solidify that understanding, yet having no desire to engage anymore with his works. This collection of stories left me repulsed ("The Metamorphosis"), disgusted ("In the Penal Colony"), irritated ("The Stoker"), or bored (all incl ...more
This review is specifically for the story "The Metamorphosis."

For some bizarre reason, Gregor Samsa, a young man living with his parents and younger sister and unhappy with his life, suddenly turns into a "monstrous vermin." It does not say specifically that he is an insect or even how large he is (though we know that he has many little legs, though we're not sure how many, and he is small enough to fit under a settee, and we know that nobody can understand him when he speaks, though he can und
Say what you will about Kafka - he's flowery, bombastic, difficult, surreal, incomprehensible - he still retains a unique and incredible style unlike any writer who's ever lived. His German is notoriously difficult to translate, and before finding this translation I often found his writings tedious overall to read. Neugroschel does an unbelievably fantastic job translating nearly all of his minor works, and brings out the painstakingly descriptive method of Kafka's writing style, as well as his ...more
Ok, I haven't read every story here. I plan on picking this up every so often and reading a story once in a while.

What I did read, though, and what I want to comment on is the classic "Metamorphosis" novella.

First off, this translation (in comparison to the bit that I read off of the Gutenberg website) is much more vibrant and humorous. I remember standing reading the first page and laughing at the situation and the character's reactions. This is truly a wonderful introduction to what is current
Hey, Goodreads, why can't I find the version of this book that I read, here, the one published by Schocken? Not sure if this is the same translation.
Anyway, I love Kafka, and I can sort of understand how he makes some people feel icky and squishy, although that makes me wonder what books those people enjoy reading...Kafka makes points about the human condition and politics withe subtlety and metaphor, in ways that you need to think about and ponder, to allow layers of meaning to sink in. Just li
Cette évaluation se base sur un facteur très simple: je n'ai pas senti qu'il y avait quelque chose à retenir de cette lecture.Certes, La Métamorphose peut être analysée, mais encore. Ça demeure vaguement l'histoire d'un homme qui se réveille du jour au lendemain transformé en punaise (!). On pourrait en tirer la conclusion que l'auteur a tenté de démontrer qu'une famille peut s'écrouler sous le poids de la tragédie d'un de ces membres. Tout de même, l'histoire est tellement farfelue qu'il devien ...more
Laurence Yearsley

Before the Law is a magnificent metaphor of the limits we put upon ourselves. We alone define the boundaries we can reach, but often find out too late. After reading this I changed certain aspects of my life, so I can say I found it very profound.
This collection begins with a quite a few early, very short stories. They have their moments, but whether because of their length or the lack of experience, they fail to open up. The transition to longer stories is jarring, neither The Judgement or The Stoker are particularly inventive, but we're immediately caught up in the running hopes, fears, doubts, and other thoughts of the narrators. It's a style that shouldn't work. The Metamorphosis and In The Penal Colony usher in more blatant surreali ...more
Balkiss Sltii
je n'ai pas pu adhérer au style d'écriture de Kafka
"Kafkaesque." Existentialism. Excellent. (And it's short).
This compilation of what the epilogue claims to be "everything that Franz Kafka himself published", is full of great literature that easily deserves the 5 stars I have given it. The works have been kept in the same order in which Kafka published them and/or compiled them in his publications, because as Max Brod also says in the epilogue, "the arrangement of the parts cannot be regarded as accidental" - an attitude with which I think most would agree all of his work should be approached with, eve ...more
Rob Charpentier
Although Kafka, with all of his rather dire and dystopian views of modern life, may not exactly be to everyone’s taste or liking in literature it nevertheless has to be admitted that he was undeniably one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. All one has to do is recognize his legacy in the use of the term “Kafkaesque” to understand this. Put quite simply, to have one’s name become an adjective is an incredibly impressive achievement for any writer. One doesn’t even have to necess ...more
The adjective "kafkaesque" has come to connote anything that is weird, creepy, anomalous, surrealistic, etc., and this collection of stories certainly testifies to that definition. "The Metamorphosis" is the most comprehensible of the stories, in my opinion, although the premise is pretty bizarre: A young German salesman wakes up one morning and finds he has inexplicably become transformed into a giant cockroach. The way his family reacts to his plight is unexpected and distressing. My interpre ...more
This is supposedly an improved translation compared to earlier Kafka books. Joachim Neugroschel, the translator of this volume, claims to have the direct line to Kafka's prose style and intentions. Things like this are one of the reasons that I approach all translations of non-English writers with a bit of skepticism. My opinion is that readers of the translation will never be able to read a writer as intended because of subtle nuances in each language that are often untranslatable. Translations ...more
Some of my favorite authors (like Haruki Marukami) and other creative people seem to love Kafka and I was excited to finally read his stories. They are much stranger than I expected. Kafka writes with such spare and careful descriptions his stories are entirely plot based and characters are quite neutral or archetypal. They read like fables with futuristic morals.

Which connects well to the psychological significance illuminated by Gilles DuLeuze and Felix Guattari- it is their interpretation th
I must not be sophisticated enough to appreciate, cause I found these bizarre

I had wanted to read "The Metamorphosis" for a while now, and figured a collection of Kafka's short stories would be even more fun. Little did I know that he liked writing (and somehow publishing) lots of short, short short stories. Like one or two sentences. Many of them were just contemplations or observations, like a prose haiku or something. But often there is no difference in the world of the story from beginning t
Jan 18, 2008 Joshua rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone who often wonders, "what is it all for?"
Shelves: classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kafka has been on my reading list for a long time, how many authors have their name turned into an adjective? This was my first - and likely my last - exposure to Kafka. Kafka doesn't really do anything for me. My favorite works are the ones that are the most popular: In the Penal Colony, The Metamorphosis, The Stoker, Conversation with the Supplicant. But even these to me are just interesting and not classics of literature.

It's unlike any other literature I've read, and I think I might have li
3 stars seems a bit low but it corresponds to 'liking it', which is true. I borrowed this book because I heard the adjective 'Kafkaesque' applied a LOT of times to other authors' works (Murakami included), so I wanted to see what he was all about.

Macabre at times, but the underlying themes and ideas he is trying to get at are quite amazing.
Wow, not too many books do I just outright don't care for. This one fell into that for me. I guess my brain is just not wired to understand story's that have little by way of plot. The ambiguity through out was baffling. Two stars only because I seldom ever feel that a book would hold no useful purpose for, at least, a few folks who are deeper thinkers.
The metamorphosis has been on my radar for the long time and
the impetus for getting and reading this set of short stories
came from David Foster Wallace's essay about Kafka's sense of

I have to agree on this aspect. Kafka poses a very subtle and
dark humor that is more in line with every day life. Bad things
happen sometimes or the way a life is lived can be depressing
but such that you can't help but laugh at the futility of worrying.
The humor aside, his Meditations really do capture some int
The stories are amongst the best of the surreal literature. Typical of such style, one cannot merely rely on the literal sense of the words, and a correct interpretation requires the concepts to be analyzed in an abstract and metaphorical air. The metamorphosis can be viewed as the writer's self portrait in response to his earlier work "The judgment", though the latter is a more positive piece with high expectations from the author. "In the penal colony" can be viewed as a political piece of wor ...more
Mallika Soni
"Now he has not very long to live. Before he dies, all his experiences in these long years gather themselves in his head to one point, a question he has not yet asked the doorkeeper. He waves him nearer, since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend low towards him, much to the man's disadvantage. 'What do you want to know now?' asks the doorkeeper; 'you are insatiable.' 'Everyone strives to reach the Law,' says the man, 'so how does it happen that for all these ma ...more
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Franz Kafka (German pronunciation: [ˈfʀants ˈkafka]) was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. He was born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary. His unique body of writing—much of which is incomplete and which was mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western lite ...more
More about Franz Kafka...
The Metamorphosis The Trial The Metamorphosis and Other Stories The Castle The Complete Stories

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