“Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man.”-W.H. Auden
“The common experience of Kafka’s readers is one of general and vague fascination, even in stories they fail to understand, a precise recollection of strange and seemingly absurd images and descriptions-until one day the hidden meaning reveals itself to them with the sudden evidence of a truth simple and incontestable.” -Hannah Arendt
With the profoundly unsettling story of Gregor Samsa’s transformation into a gigantic insect, The Metamorphosis (1915) is Franz Kafka’s best-known work and one of the most influential pieces of 20th century literature. Without ever leaving the setting of a single apartment, the notion of a vast disaffection takes on universal truths about the tolls of modern work and the mind-body divide.
In the defining opening, “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant insect.”, Franz Kafka begins what is one of the most analyzed and debated works of existential dread. As Gregor becomes acquainted with his new form, his boss arrives to reprimand him on his tardiness at work, and his family discovers the horrifying truth of his shocking condition. Although his sister takes measures to care for Gregor, eventually his family resents his existence as the reader is inexplicable drawn into his terrifying state of isolation. Both humane and repulsive, The Metamorphosis is an essential read of the modern classics.