I know! Even I can’t believe I hadn’t read this classic all these years. Better late than never, so here I am trying to fill in all those gaps in my lI know! Even I can’t believe I hadn’t read this classic all these years. Better late than never, so here I am trying to fill in all those gaps in my literary life. Franz Kafka has always been spoken about with a lot of respect among my literary friends. And ‘The Metamorphosis’ is considered as one of his best works which has been analyzed enough and more. When you hear or read such high praise about a book, your expectation from the book naturally is high. And when you pick up a book with very high expectations, you are very likely to be disappointed and that’s what happened with me.
‘The Metamorphosis’ is about a young man who finds himself transformed into a monstrous insect and about how things around him change due to his transformation. Gregor is a marketing salesman who is the sole bread earner of the family. He wakes up on a routine day to find that he has turned into a beetle (The closest translation of the German word Ungeziefer that appears in the original work). His family is unaware of this and urge him to get up and be off to work. When he doesn’t turn up at his workplace, his manager comes over to his house to see what is keeping Gregor from work. The manager and Gregor’s family are in for a shock when Gregor reveals his new ‘avatar’. The author takes us through how his family tries to cope with the fact that Gregor is no longer a human. Gregor’s sister, Greta, is burdened with the task of cleaning Gregor’s room and she can’t stand being in that room without feeling suffocated. His mother with her weak nerves cannot muster enough courage to even look at her son. His father blames Gregor for the whole mess. The author shows us how the family adapts to this crisis and how Gregor copes with it.
What struck me most was the fact that Gregor on realizing his transformation does not wonder about the cause or worry about how he is going to lead a life as an insect. Instead, all he is bothered about is how he can get up from the bed and get to work because his manager and his dad will get mad at him. Greta comes across as a kind sister who tries to make it easy for Gregor by leaving the window open so that he can see the world outside and offering him food which is fit for insects and so on. With time, the kind sister transforms into an unsympathetic woman because of the frustration and the embarrassment she has to endure. Gregor’s helplessness and the family’s indifference tugs at your heart. You pity Gregor and start despising his family for not understanding his plight. The ending, oh my God, the ending – it is disturbing. Though I could predict what was coming, I was left aghast when it actually happened.
The original book is in German and has been translated into English by many writers. German readers complain that the translated works do not have the same impact because of the difference in the structure of the sentences. Kafka ended his sentences with words which have the greatest impact and since this is not always possible in English, the impact of the sentences gets diluted. Much has been argued about the word Ungeziefer that appears in the first sentence (which is one of the most popular first sentences in English). While we see bug, insect, cockroach and beetle used in its place, experts argue none of them convey the real meaning.
While the book is an interesting (and slightly disturbing) read, I really don’t see what the hype is about. I fail to understand why this is so talked about and recommended as a must read. I know it is a metaphor and there are derived meanings, but I did not appreciate the book. At best, it taught me how a family should not behave in the time of crisis, especially when a dear one is at the center of it....more
After having a baby, I hear a lot about different parenting styles and books about them. Though I don’t know all of them, I do know there are two schoAfter having a baby, I hear a lot about different parenting styles and books about them. Though I don’t know all of them, I do know there are two schools of thought which stand far apart – the baby training style and the err, the non-training style. I didn’t know what the second style was called until I read the book ‘The Attachment Parenting Book’.
The first school emphasizes on training the baby to adjust to your world and the second does the opposite – you getting used to your baby and its schedules. The first time I heard about sleep training the baby, I was aghast! You apparently ‘teach’ the baby to go to sleep by letting him cry in his crib unattended. The baby literally cries itself to sleep while you stand by and watch. How inhumanely and cruel that sounded to me! And what is the big need to teach the baby to go to sleep on its own? Did our mothers sleep train us? Didn’t we learn to sleep on our own? The moment I read about sleep training, I knew I would hate everything about this style of parenting. What that meant was I would like the other parenting style.
Coming back to the book, it is an excellent guide to first time parents. The emphasis is more on mothering, but fathers can read it too, since it has a chapter on attachment fathering. The book advises parents to listen to baby’s cues and attend to it accordingly.
A baby needs to trust his parents and this world before he can get used to it. A mother is the person a baby trusts the most and a mother should never let the baby feel that she is not there for him. I can’t stand the thought of letting my baby cry. I would rush to him and hold him in my arms – I can never spoil him that way, can I? My son cries because he has a need. It could be hunger, sleep, pain, fear and sheer boredom. Can’t infants get bored? Think about it.
We mothers, Indians especially, follow attachment parenting without knowing it. The book emphasizes on creating a strong bond between the baby and the parents. Breastfeeding, babywearing, bonding at birth, co-sleeping – these are some of the things that are discussed in the book. I am a big fan of co-sleeping and I was very happy with the amount of importance the book gives to co-sleeping.
While I agree with most of these ideas, babywearing is something I have a slight objection to. I feel that infants are capable of entertaining themselves and need not be carried all the time. I would leave my son to play on his own and even today he plays with his toys for hours together while I catch up with my house work. Also, if I had worn my baby in a sling for six months, when would he learn to roll over and crawl? Carrying in a sling might be inevitable for high-need babies, but I feel babies should be given some private time of their own. Wonder what Dr.Sears will say to that.
The best thing about attachment parenting is it lets you, the mom, decide what is best for the baby. Only a mom can know what the baby needs. Even today, my husband and my mom can’t differentiate between my son’s different cries. He has a different crying style for all his needs – hunger, sleep, pain, hurt, fear and boredom. My husband wonders how come I know exactly what my son wants. Well, what can I say, I am the mother. I am biologically programmed to understand and cater to my son’s needs. And this is what attachment parenting is all about....more
I picked up this book as a way to allay my guilty feeling for not reading enough Indian authors. Shashi Deshpande ranks high in the list of top IndianI picked up this book as a way to allay my guilty feeling for not reading enough Indian authors. Shashi Deshpande ranks high in the list of top Indian authors, so it was natural to pick up one of her books.
That Long Silence is the story of Jaya, a housewife and mother to two teenaged children and is a writer in her free time. Jaya’s life resembles any typical Indian housewife, compromising for family needs, putting family before oneself, suffering silently, until she gets a jolt when her husband is fired from his work with charges of fraud. Her life turns upside down when her husband ‘the tree which gives shelter’ is no longer the bread earner of the family and they have to live with the shame of the charges and move on with their life. Jaya tells us stories about her cousins, parents, aunts and grandparents and we see how Jaya has evolved through her life.
The main problem I had with the book is its narration. The tone is sloppy, weak and not engaging and the writer jumps from past to present to future which makes you go dizzy. For someone who is left with ‘that long silence’, the conversation should have been deeper and more philosophical, but it sounds like Jaya is nervously reciting from a paper in front of a packed audience. The writer failed to evoke any emotions in me for the main protagonist, which was what the book needed the most. The rest was a downhill journey. The convoluted sentences and bad choice of words makes this book a difficult read. Do we Indians try hard to sound like foreign authors or are we so bad with English that we can’t write well? The characters are lifeless and do not deserve the readers’ time.
I am disappointed that my first attempt at reading more local authors was such a failure. I don’t want to be deterred by this, so I am going to read other authors or other recommended books of the same author. If you have read a good book by any Indian author, do suggest some....more