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
Of all the books that are made into movies, this is the only book which I hadn’t heard of before learning about the movie. This movie made a lot of neOf all the books that are made into movies, this is the only book which I hadn’t heard of before learning about the movie. This movie made a lot of news and God knows where I was when the book was released or made news (turns out I was not even born. The story was published in 1922). Did it make news at all or did it become popular because it was made into a movie?
The curious case of Benjamin Button is about well, Benjamin Button who is born as an old man. He is seventy years old when he is born. Wrinkled skin, stooped back, achy joints – all indications that nature has played a cruel joke on him. As he goes on with his life, he realizes that he is actually growing younger, going back in age. The story starts off with a bang and keeps the curiosity raised until the middle of the book. But the ending was a disappointment. What starts off as a promising story ends with a ‘poof’. Still, an enjoyable story. I wonder how they made this into a movie. The story was first published in 1922. The rights are in public domain now, so the story is available free online for everyone to read. Check the links at the end of this post to read this story online. Though the story was published so long ago, the movie was made only in 2008.
There are two other stories in the book – Bernice bobs her hair and The diamond as big as the Ritz. Both the stories are available online for free. The first story is about a girl who is constantly talking about bobbing her hair to get boys’ attention without any intention of getting a bob. I like the characterization in this story. The two protagonist ladies are etched really well and their feelings are relevant even today. The second one is about a man who owns a diamond which is as big as The Ritz. This story is as wacky as Benjamin Button but has a better climax.
There is nothing much really to remember or learn from these stories, apart from the couple of laughs you get while reading them. These are intended to be that anyway – light and entertaining. There is no attempt at prodding one’s intellectual, so take these stories as they are. Get a hearty laugh and move on to another book.
I am dying to know what the public reaction was when these stories were published. It was a different era with totally different mindset and I was wondering how people took these stories. Did they like it or did they dismiss as a heap of rubbish?...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