I can easily hold my hands up and say I’m not the most intelligent of readers. Sometimes I just prefer a bit of Marian Keyes, or something that will make me laugh, and not make me worry I’m missing something. So deciding to read some Kafka was quite an overwhelming decision for me, continuing on my (possible) progression to more highbrow literature. However I read an introduction that made me understand that the Kafka-esque style terrors I was worried about was actually a term coined more about his editor, Max Brod, and how he presented the works to the world, not the literature Kafka actually produced. So after a recent trip to Prague I proceeded to peruse one of Kafka’s celebrated short stories, Metamorphosis.
So in this short story, Gregor Samsa wakes up one day as a beetle. He cannot go to work, his family are terrified of his lispy voice and reduced form, and he is confined to his bedroom. What is this an allegory for? Illness? Political protest? I have no idea, but I like to speculate. The life Samsa lead as a human was extremely limited by his work and the debts of his father, a running theme in the story (the transformation of Gregor into a beetle then affects his family in untold ways).
It’s an odd story. Plot wise or moral-related, there’s nothing to be taken from it. But it’s enthralling all the same; I read all fifty pages in one sitting and became more and more puzzled with each paragraph. How often do you read a short story with chapters? And how often do you read a narrative narrated by a human masquerading as an insect? It’s an interesting story, an experiment in style. I can’t say I understood it. Maybe in time I will. But I enjoyed it, my first little step into the world of Franz.