Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

I wish I could say I enjoyed this and that it has changed my mind about Kafka- it hasn’t. But I do see the value in this novella and it would certainly be an interesting one to make a study of… I just couldn’t get over the giant bug situation and the fact that Kafka writes for symbolism.

I always have a problem with authors who write purely for symbolism. I don’t mind symbolism at all, but I do resent having to google the Sparknotes for a story because I can’t understand what it is that they were getting at! Kafka is definitely one of those writers… there hasn’t been a story of his I’ve read that I haven’t ended up googling in confusion.

I was definitely interested in Gregor’s burgeoning understanding of what had happened to him. I felt so sorry for him, especially when he was injured. The poor bloke woke up to a nightmare, whether the cockroach bit was symbolic or not. I kind of took his plight as some form of mental illness or debilitating sickness in insect form… I don’t know how right I am, but that was how I interpreted the story.

I also understand the actions of his family, especially if you stick to the literal meaning of the story. I can see why having your son turn into a cockroach one morning would be horrific. I can also see that having a son with a random mental illness would be awful and incomprehensible, particularly in the early 20th Century. I still didn’t like them attacking him or wanting to throw him out… poor Gregor.

I didn’t particularly like the translation I had, but in its defence, it cost me $3. So beggars can’t be choosers!

It’s a short novella but I found it rather slow going. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it was mainly down to the symbolism.

I’m sorry, Kafka, I did want to really enjoy this, and I do see what you were doing, but I just don’t enjoy your style. I’ll probably re-read this at some point though, as I feel like I’m missing things and want to fully comprehend the text.

I also just really, really do not like cockroaches.

3/5 Stars


5 thoughts on “Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

  1. It’s a shame you didn’t like Metamorphosis, but I agree that the symbolism can get tiring sometimes. I try and go with the flow and focus on the overall feel I get from it rather than worrying about any obscure passages, but I completely understand where you’re coming from. Have you read any of his short stories? They’re similar to Metamorphosis, but I think more digestible in smaller chunks!

    • I liked sections of it and I really do think I’ll go back to it somewhen, I think it is the sort of thing you should revisit.
      I think my problem is that I feel like I need to understand everything straight away, rather than just let things slide. I’m trying to wean myself off that, as it’s a high school leftover, but it’s holding me back from enjoying texts (mainly modernist) that I really do want to like!
      I’ve read a few of his short stories, they are definitely easier in smaller chunks. I can’t remember the names of them off the top of my head… I something about a man trying to get through a gate though 🙂

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