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The Metamorphosis, the Penal Colony, and Other Stories (Schocken Classics)

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  12,399 Ratings  ·  216 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, 317 pages
Published November 14th 1995 by Schocken (first published 1915)
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Sep 06, 2007 Rusty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: insomniac manic depressives
Shelves: dandies, absurdities
Kafka plays best in the shadows cast by looming uncertainty and absurdist dreamscapes. The Metamorphosis is inexpressibly important to me for the blunt force trauma it applied to my understanding of what a story is. It taught me how dreams, fantasies and recollections always collaborate in varying amounts to form experience and how a writing can convey the essence of that experience. The other stories affected me less, but The Metamorphosis is monumentally important.
Nov 04, 2007 Sophia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 18, 2008 Joshua rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 16, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 13, 2009 Cameron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
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
Sep 09, 2009 Helynne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 16, 2011 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2011 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Kafkaesque." Existentialism. Excellent. (And it's short).
Oct 20, 2011 Gabriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 24, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Penal Colony was by far my favorite. Other notable short stories were of course The Metamorphosis, the Bachelor, The Hunger Artist, and The Judgement. As often with Kafka, some off the stories either 'go over my head,' or simply don't resonate with me, but that doesn't change the fact that there is no other author out there like Kafka. (Maybe Knute Hamsun or Sigizmund Khrizhanovsky comes close).
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.
Nov 12, 2012 Adriel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 17, 2016 Germán rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La metamorfosis, La condena, El fogonero, Ante la ley, El médico rural. Relatos de diez. Los demás, que son tan cortos, no aportan mucho. Por eso no tiene las dichosas cinco estrellitas.
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
Oct 28, 2013 Kirk rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, audiobooks
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
Dec 28, 2013 Kurt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 29, 2014 Sophie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Balkiss Sltii
je n'ai pas pu adhérer au style d'écriture de Kafka
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
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,
Sanjay Gautam
Jan 05, 2015 Sanjay Gautam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As usual the story was KAFKAESQUE. Better read it, its a very short one, though thought provoking.
Apr 14, 2015 Ieuan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ooi Ghee Leng
Feb 24, 2016 Ooi Ghee Leng rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Hofmann did a great job introducing the Kafka-esque elements (the 3 Kafka times) in simple terms which are easily shown to have turned complex when interactions and conflicts happen and unfold in the stories. Kafka was an amazing storyteller. Believe in every praise you read from the critics. All of them hold true when it comes to Kafka. His stories can be said to be contradictory in that they are: (1) straightforward, yet built with a grotesque / unexpected twist; (2) quotidian narrativ ...more
Auggie Heschmeyer
May 27, 2016 Auggie Heschmeyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never read any Kafka before beginning this collection, but I had heard the term Kafkaesque thrown around a lot. Based on my understanding of the term, I expected a collection of overwhelmingly oppressive, Orwellian stories about the little man being at the mercy of the larger man and the vindictive universe as a whole. Instead, what I got was a single story about a man turned into a cockroach and a number of sweet little stories about people wondering about their place in the world and wha ...more
Lucy Di Angelo
Amo la metamorfosis porque es una historia sobre la tristeza que se adquiere al decepcionar las expectativas de personas queridas. Sin duda, una de mis novelas favoritas. Te conmueve, te hace llorar (lloré muchísimo) pero al final de todo, sientes un alivio muy grande de que todo ese sufrimiento haya terminado (tanto para ti, como para el personaje en cuestión). Amo a Kafka y con este hermoso libro me enamoré de él muchísimo más.
Sep 26, 2016 Mckenzie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel like this book went right over my head. It read simply, but if there was much behind the text I missed it.
Oct 19, 2016 Amit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book to read the Metamorphosis, and then read a few more stories. This was my first exposure to Kafka, and to my surprise, I found that even though these stories were written a century ago, they seemed extremely relevant to the world we live in today.

Metamorphosis is the story of a responsible young man, the sole breadwinner of his family, who wakes up one morning transformed into a monstrous vermin, and how the people around him react to his metamorphosis. At a literal level, t
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Franz Kafka 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 literature.

His stories include The Metamorpho
More about Franz Kafka...

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“His wounds, incidentally, must have healed up by now, he felt no handicap anymore, which was astonishing; for, as recalled, after he had nicked his finger with a knife over a month ago, the injury had still been hurting the day before yesterday. "Am I less sensitive now?" he wondered, greedily sucking at the cheese, which had promptly exerted a more emphatic attraction on him than any of the other food. His eyes watered with contentment as he gulped down the cheese, the vegetables, and the sauce in rapid succession. By contrast, he did not relish the fresh foods, he could not even stand their smells, and he actually dragged the things he wanted to eat a short distance away.” 1 likes
“Ako te to toliko mami, a ti pokušaj da odeš tamo. Ali upamti; ja sam moćan. A ja sam samo posljednji po činu.” 1 likes
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