Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review by Shellie and John: The Metamorphosis By Fanz Kafka

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There are some amazing covers for this book – I liked this one. It links to the Amazon US book purchase site for this edition.

Genre: Classic Horror

Mini Synopsis:

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. – Franz Kafka The Metamorphosis

A novella published in 1915, it is set in Europe in the early 1900’s. The main character, Gregor Samsa wakes one morning to find that he has transformed into a bug. Being the sole support of his aging parents and teenage sister he becomes increasingly worried about their future. They are appalled at his appearance and leave him in his bedroom alone while hoping he disappears.

Shellie’s Thoughts:

John and I listened to this audio book while driving. It was unabridged. This will be a joint review.

We both agreed that, while the narration was done with an English accent and was pleasant it was surprisingly upbeat in tone, it felt like a slightly bizarre period piece, telling of woes in that particular time. Where instead of the main character having a terminal disease he turned into a beetle. 

This horrific event espouses the horrors of loss, abandonment, loosing one’s ability to communicate, and station in life, as well as our ability to truly recognize who we are or what we have become.

I felt that although the writing/reading was intriguing, I wanted more. Perhaps it is being so accustomed to drama and hype within modern day reading The Metamorphosis went comparatively limp. We agreed and gave this book 3 Stars. We liked it but it was not what we expected.



An Austrian/Czech author born – July 3, 1883 died – June 3, 1924. He is purported to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Sadly, he was not well known until after his death.

For Wikipedia information on Franz Kafka link on his above picture.


Thinking about The Metamorphosis further - apparently there are a number of layered meanings within the story which are not apparent without discussion. Amanda at The Zen Leaf noted in a written conversation about the book in Goodreads. It was in response to her recent review of a graphic novel rendition of  the title (linked to her blog on her name.) Here is a snippet below:

I adore the original. I've read it 4-5 times now.

Oh it has so much in it! The conflict between old and new testament in the Bible and the changing world attitudes towards religion. The father-son psychoanalytic conflict. And much much more. It's the sort of book that's best studied with a class or in a group to get a full appreciation of everything in it. Each time I read it, I get something new out of it.

This is why we love talking about books. Thanks Amanda!

John’s Post Discussion Thoughts:

For a book that is widely regarded as a classic, I was a little surprised and was somehow expecting more. I can see how there are different layers to the story, and can well imagine that with repeat reading or with discussion, greater depth becomes apparent.

For example, I just read a view that the most radical metamorphosis in the story was not Gregor himself, but rather how his family reacted to him and to their changed circumstances. Which is a most excellent twist and now seems obvious, but I didn’t get that at the time. Maybe listening while driving was not the best way to experience this story.

Purchasing links for the audio version of this book from The Book Depository US/Euro/AUD/Canada

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