Thoyd Loki

Kafka's Metamorphosis

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So a friend of mine who has some degree in literature recommended I read Kafka after hearing I had never read him. So I read the Metamorphosis as I had heard of it before.

I have read that this story is highly regarded and taught in college (or was, probably Snoop Dogg "lyrics" now). I do not know why. Here is what I got from the story.

Son, who was the family's provider, wakes up as useless beetle (I guess scholars debate exactly what bug he was), annoys and frightens the family for a time, and then dies. The family is left without a provider. That is until the parents notice that their daughter has grown up to be a hottie, thus their daily bread is re-won.

Has anyone read this? Did I miss something?

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Has anyone read this? Did I miss something?

Nope, it's just modern literature; a dreary story that pretentious people love to wax lyrical about.

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Franz Kafka is considered to be one of the most important and influential writers of the 20th century.

His work, most of which was published posthumously, continues to be a source of research,

scholarship and philosophical discussion in diverse academic, literary and popular arenas.

...

"There is nothing besides a spiritual world; what we call the world of the senses is the Evil in the spiritual world, and what we call Evil is only the necessity of a moment in our eternal evolution." Elaborating further, he went on, "The fact that there is nothing but a spiritual world deprives us of hope and gives us certainty."

"A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to Die". Franz Kafka Diaries

I guess he was just a normal, happy guy.

He was a mess. The intent of "Metamorphosis" was to depict his own sense of insignificance ("...this feeling of nothing that dominates me..." in his letter to his father, same source) in a concretized, if bizarre, way. He did a great job, in The Trial and The Castle (neither of which I was able to finish; I skimmed about 2/3 of them, he did a great job depicting bureaucracy as a nightmare wall of obfuscation and the arbitrary, often with sharp, dry irony. I think that is their value. Beyond that, he was a damaged person who communicated that damage well because he was a technically excellent writer.

I'm glad I read his stuff a long time ago so I don't have to now, to know what his work was like. There are writers and artists like that, who have great talent, but who, due to psychological damage or just awful philosophy, create nightmares or dystopias or mixed work that has some value, but it's like digging through a toxic waste dump to find it. I found Sylvia Plath to be almost unreadable, it was so violently, vividly horrific, but, in studying poetry, I learned something about how to create a certain kind of raw power and the use of imagery to achieve an effect. I would never wish to nor be able to write as negatively and destructively as her, but it was valuable. Usually, such mixed bags that I find valuable are not trying to depress their readers or viewers; it is their sincere, if mistaken view of reality that is the affront, while their work is important to them and they often can achieve great elegance of form and execution.

I don't respond that way to someone whose intent is evil, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, who wrote vigorously, but with such obvious manipulative effort and dishonesty that I found his work disgusting. Likewise Tolstoy, actually. He insisted on inserting his idiotic idea of "Historicism" (essentially, the primacy of the Zeitgeist, the inexorable flow of history, a kind of fatalism) into works like "War and Peace" that started out impressively, but were reduced to nihilism by his philosophy. He observed and then abandoned reality as it served his purpose. "Anna Karenina" is the end state of that, but there are many examples.

Then there's Pete Best, who woke up one day and, suddenly, he was no longer a Beatle.

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He was a mess. The intent of "Metamorphosis" was to depict his own sense of insignificance ("...this feeling of nothing that dominates me..." in his letter to his father, same source) in a concretized, if bizarre, way. He did a great job, in The Trial and The Castle (neither of which I was able to finish; I skimmed about 2/3 of them, he did a great job depicting bureaucracy as a nightmare wall of obfuscation and the arbitrary, often with sharp, dry irony. I think that is their value. Beyond that, he was a damaged person who communicated that damage well because he was a technically excellent writer.

Pretty much my opinion as well. I enjoyed reading him to the extent that I thought he was technically a very good writer. But the despairing hopelessness of his story obviously rubbed me the wrong way, and his parents disgusted me. I may try other stories of his merely because I did enjoy his technical proficiency.

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Has anyone read this? Did I miss something?

Nope, it's just modern literature; a dreary story that pretentious people love to wax lyrical about.

I suppose Gregor should have checked into a motel -- a Roach Motel, that is! Somebody came out with a book a year or two ago arguing that Kafka wasn't really morose, and that his surreal horror stories were actually a joke. If they were, I'm still wondering what the punch line was supposed to be.

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Pretty much my opinion as well. I enjoyed reading him to the extent that I thought he was technically a very good writer. But the despairing hopelessness of his story obviously rubbed me the wrong way, and his parents disgusted me. I may try other stories of his merely because I did enjoy his technical proficiency.

Kafka was a weird-0, but he was onto something with -Metamorphosis-. I think he was predicting or foretelling the Holocaust. What happened to Gregor is metaphorically a description of what happened to the Jews in Europe. Just a hunch.

Bob Kolker

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Do you all remember the 1968 movie The Producers? When Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, in order to fulfill their scheme to produce a flop on Broadway and skip off to Rio after opening night with the money people have invested in the production, try to find material for it, they search through tons of novels and plays. Mostel starts to read one: "'As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning, he found himself transformed into a gigantic insect.'" He ponders, then shakes his head. "Too good," he says, and tosses the book on the reject pile.

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