Glenn Russell's Reviews > The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
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it was amazing

Kafka’s classic tale written in 1912 is about the changes that can come about in our lives. Up until the very end, the entire tale takes place in an apartment of a mother, father, son and daughter. The son is unfortunately unable to continue to perform his job as a traveling salesman and support his family financially. This abrupt change forces the father, mother and daughter to exert more energy in their lives and take steps to earn money. Here is a word about each member of the family:

The Father – At the beginning of the tale he is too worn out to even stand up straight and walk across the apartment without pausing. At the end, he stands up straight, combs his white hair neatly, wears a uniform smartly in his new job working for a bank and can take charge of family situations and challenges with authority.

The Mother – At the outset, she is weak and helpless. At the end, she does the household cooking and helps support her family through taking in sewing.

The Daughter – A wan stay-at-home at the beginning and a healthy out-in-the-world worker at the end. At the very end, this 17 year-old blossoms into an attractive young lady, a real catch for some lucky guy.

This Kafka tale is, in some important ways, the forerunner of such books as ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie.
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Of course, what I've written above is tongue-in-cheek; not to be taken seriously!

Review of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka ---- Take 2

If I didn’t write this ‘Take 2’ I suspect my book review would be the first in nearly 100 years not to mention Gregor wakes up transformed into an enormous bug. Since there already so many reviews posted, I’d like to offer several brief observations:

• What is it about our attempt to maintain the status quo? Gregor is transformed into a monstrous verminous bug and all he and his mother and father and sister can ask is: ‘How can we change things back to how they were?’.

• The objective 3rd person narrator lets us know directly that although Gregor’s body has transformed, he still has his human mind with its memories. Why does his family assume Gregor lost his human mind? If they wanted, they could simply ask him questions to find out. For example, ‘Gregor, if you can understand what I am saying, move over to the right side of your room’. This speaks volumes about how people are too narrow in their thinking to deal with life creatively and with imagination.

• What adds to the eeriness of Kafka tale is Gregor’s metamorphosis is in stark contrast to the humdrum regularity of the family in their apartment. The possible exception is the absurdist scene at the beginning where Gregor’s manager knocks on the door and insists on knowing why Gregor missed the early morning train. This combination of these opposites is a stroke of genius.

• The most insightful review of this Kafka tale I’ve read is from Vladimir Nabokov ------ http://www.kafka.org/index.php?id=191.... Nabokov adjudged Kafka’s tale the greatest novel of the 20th century behind Joyce’s Ulysses.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 13, 2014 – Shelved

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message 1: by Tiffany (new) - added it

Tiffany thanks for the recommendation Glen!


Tanvir Ahmed nice and classy book


Glenn Russell Tiffany wrote: "thanks for the recommendation Glen!"

My pleasure, Tiffany.
If you have not already, you might want to take a look at the absurdist tongue-in-cheek review I wrote.


Glenn Russell Tanvir wrote: "nice and classy book"

Yes, Gregor is a classy kind of bug!
I hope my review wasn't too tongue-in-cheek.


message 5: by Glenn (last edited Aug 22, 2014 08:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell Thanks for your post here, Emilian.

Yes, having this opportunity to share ideas and reflections on books via Goodreads is one of the great benefits of living in our Brave New 21st century world. I have learned lots from my Goodreads friends.

Like nearly all lovers of great literature, I also take issue with VN's judgement of those three outstanding writers. It is no wonder that book of VN interviews is called 'Strong Opinions'.


Cecily Is it bad that I (slightly) prefer your tongue-in-cheek version? ;)


Glenn Russell Cecily wrote: "Is it bad that I (slightly) prefer your tongue-in-cheek version? ;)"

Nope. It's great!


Rand nice re-view, Glenn. The Guardian recently printed an edited version of Richard T Kelly’s preface to the 2015 edition, translated by AL Lloyd.


Glenn Russell Rand wrote: "nice re-view, Glenn. The Guardian recently printed an edited version of Richard T Kelly’s preface to the 2015 edition, translated by AL Lloyd."

Wow! That Guardian link is a real treasure. Thanks so much. Incidentally, inspired by this Kafka tale, I wrote a paragraph story -- Overtime -- about an office worker who gets swallowed up by his desk.


Maricarmen Estrada M I need to read this book again. I was way too young to understand any of it when I read it as part of the school curriculum. Thanks for the review Glenn!


message 11: by Rand (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rand Glenn, do you share your writings online anywhere?

(i rather enjoyed the pictures of the stage adaptations on that link, as well as the general flow of the piece.) The other day I was speaking to a friend about the new-est translation and he was having trouble understanding why the world needed yet another translation of this story. We were talking over coffee, after choosing not to go to three different cafes in order to be where we were. I didn't bother explaining to him how the business of academic translations and the continual vitalisation of the Great Books goes.

@Maricarmen: as far as reading and rereading goes, we gain a continual understanding with each experience with a work of literature. Don't discount your initial exposure, one may always reassess or recollect an initial reading upon any further rereading.


Glenn Russell Rand wrote: "Glenn, do you share your writings online anywhere?

(i rather enjoyed the pictures of the stage adaptations on that link, as well as the general flow of the piece.) The other day I was speaking to..."


Thanks for asking, Rand.

Glenn, do you share your writings online anywhere? --- Yes! My 250 reviews right here on Goodreads. I did write books of fiction and prose poems years ago with the little presses but currently all out-of-print. I included some of that fiction in several reviews, for example, Mulata by Asturias.


Ivonne Rovira I had never understood why they pelted him with rotten fruit at the end and basically killed him. My high-school teacher thought it was the resentment of the helped toward their helper, but it seemed incredibly cruel. Why not just let him go free? Afraid the neighbors might find out?


message 14: by Glenn (last edited Jul 22, 2015 12:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell Ivonne wrote: "I had never understood why they pelted him with rotten fruit at the end and basically killed him. My high-school teacher thought it was the resentment of the helped toward their helper, but it seem..."

Ah, the many reasons why people can be sooo cruel. I even knew someone I briefly worked with years ago who justified his cruelty by saying 'it is for their own good'.

And, yes, one reason people can be cruel is to protect their sense of identity, particularly their social identity (Oh my, what will the neighbors think??!!). For people overly preoccupied with their family's social identity, life can become very nasty very quickly if a family member, in their view, steps out of line.


message 15: by Kara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kara Trevlac Thanks, Glenn! Your reviews are always incredibly insightful. Thanks for the link of the review/ analysis by Nabokov. I just finished this and it was very helpful in understanding and analyzing the many dimensions of the story.


Glenn Russell Kara wrote: "Thanks, Glenn! Your reviews are always incredibly insightful. Thanks for the link of the review/ analysis by Nabokov. I just finished this and it was very helpful in understanding and analyzing the..."

Thanks so much, Kara. Glad my review and link to VN was helpful to you. And you are right, his review of this book is one of the most insightful reviews of any book I have ever read.


Glenn Russell Wes wrote: "Thanks for the insightful review, Glenn. This book is going to sit with me for a while. Looking forward to reading Nabokov's interpretation."

My pleasure, Wes. Enjoy! It really is a true classic. As is Nabokov's essay.


message 18: by Lars (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lars Jerlach Great review Glenn.


message 19: by Mark Hebwood (new)

Mark Hebwood What adds to the eeriness of Kafka tale is Gregor’s metamorphosis is in stark contrast to the humdrum regularity of the family in their apartment

Indeed. And also, of course, that the protagonist is very anxious about the possibility of missing his train, and being late at the office, and finding it difficult to get up. I think if I had found myself in a similar predicament, I would have spent at least a passing thought on why I had changed into an insect. I am reasonably confident that I would have prioritised this thought over other concerns... :-)

I just read this, too. My review is much shorter than yours, Glenn, but you might find it amusing:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Glenn Russell Lars wrote: "Great review Glenn."

Thanks, Lars! Considering how well-known this tale is, I thought I could have a little fun with the beginning of my review.


Glenn Russell Mark Hebwood wrote: "What adds to the eeriness of Kafka tale is Gregor’s metamorphosis is in stark contrast to the humdrum regularity of the family in their apartment

Indeed. And also, of course, that the protagonist ..."


I did. Thanks for the link, Mark!


Fernando An excellent review about "The Metamorphosis", Glenn.


Glenn Russell Fernando wrote: "An excellent review about "The Metamorphosis", Glenn."

Thanks, Fernando! And if you haven't read Nabokov's essay on this Kafka classic, please do. I'm sure you will love it.


message 24: by Fernando (last edited Jun 13, 2017 07:25AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Fernando Glenn wrote: "Fernando wrote: "An excellent review about "The Metamorphosis", Glenn."

Thanks, Fernando! And if you haven't read Nabokov's essay on this Kafka classic, please do. I'm sure you will love it."


I have some issues against Nabokov, but I'll give that essay a little try only because of Kafka.


Petergiaquinta Thanks for those links, Glenn! The Kafka site is a treasure trove...and I'm always up for some insights from Nabokov:

"Beauty plus pity--that is the closest we can get to a definition of art."

"...the Viennese witch doctor"!

What are your "issues" against Nabokov, Fernando? I find reading his criticism/lectures sometimes more exhilarating than reading the actual texts!


message 26: by Kenny (new)

Kenny This is an amazing review! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions on this work.


Glenn Russell Kenny wrote: "This is an amazing review! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions on this work."

My pleasure, Kenny! Glad you enjoyed. There have been enough books written about Kafka to fill a few shelves in a library.


message 28: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash I think there's a large slice of freudianism in the tale. The Father throws an apple at the bug which wounds him and stays there as a permanent wound (castration complex) and gets infected. It works on so many levels of interpretation, which is why I would agree with Nabakov's verdict. For me the greatest short story I've ever read


Glenn Russell Marc wrote: "I think there's a large slice of freudianism in the tale. The Father throws an apple at the bug which wounds him and stays there as a permanent wound (castration complex) and gets infected. It work..."

Wonderful you have given this classic a great deal of reflection and judge it among the greats, Marc.


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