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The Metamorphosis (Bantam Classics) Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 1972

ISBN-13: 978-0553213690 ISBN-10: 0553213695 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics; Reprint edition (February 1, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553213695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553213690
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Kafka’s survey of the insectile situation of young Jews in inner Bohemia can hardly be improved upon: ‘With their posterior legs they were still glued to their father’s Jewishness and with their wavering anterior legs they found no new ground.’ There is a sense in which Kafka’s Jewish question (‘What have I in common with Jews?’) has become everybody’s question, Jewish alienation the template for all our doubts. What is Muslimness? What is femaleness? What is Polishness? These days we all find our anterior legs flailing before us. We’re all insects, all Ungeziefer, now.”
—Zadie Smith
 
“Kafka engaged in no technical experiments whatsoever; without in any way changing the German language, he stripped it of its involved constructions until it became clear and simple, like everyday speech purified of slang and negligence. 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 

From the Publisher

"When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin." With this startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first sentence, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetlelike insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing -- though absurdly comic -- meditation on human feelings of inadequecy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the mosst widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction. As W.H. Auden wrote, "Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man."

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Customer Reviews

GREAT BOOK...a must read....highly recommended!!
Brian McAllister
Kafka has created a storyline that readers relate to and appreciate, but the sheer humor of the story allows the reader to appreciate this connection even further.
Logan Dalton
This book is very easy to read and it is very short.
Jade Madigan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on January 4, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For all the debate and argument over what this story means, the plot of the Metamorphosis is refreshingly simple. Gregor Sassma wakes up one morning and discovers that, over the course of the night, he's been transformed into a giant insect. The rest of this novella deals with Gregor's attempts to adjust to his new condition without providing a burden for his parents (who he has spent his life supporting and, it is made clear, veiw their son as little more than a commodity to be exploited) or for his sweet younger sister who Gregor views with an almost heart breaking affection. For his efforts to not bother society with his new insect identity, Gregor is both shunned and eventually destroyed by that same society, which of course now has little use for him. As dark as that plot outline may sound, what is often forgotten (or simply ignored) is that the Metamorphosis is -- in many ways -- a comic masterpiece. Instead of engaging in a lot of portentous philosophizing, Kafka tells his bizarre tell in the most deadpan of fashions. Ignoring the temptation to come up with any mystical or scientific explanations, Kafka simply shows us that Gregor has become an insect and explains how the rest of his short life is lived. This detached, amused tone makes the story's brutal conclusion all the more powerful.
As well, for all the theories on what Kafka's "saying" with this story, the reasons behind Gregor's transformation are not all that complicated or hard to figure out. Kafka, as opposed to too many other writers since, declines to spell out the specific reasons but still makes it clear that Gregor (and by extension, all the other Gregors in the world) had allowed himself to become a powerless insect long before actually physically turning into one.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Danny Cooper on February 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Kafka's 'The Metamorphisis' is as an important story as any when it comes to short fiction, but this translation is completely inept. If you're looking into picking up this edition, I assume you know about the story or can at least look up information elsewhere. Let me just warn you that this translation is not even proofread. There are constant typos like "tilted" instead of "titled" and the like. There are also many repeated words and sentences that make no sense no matter how many times you read them. In short, DO NOT BUY THIS EDITION.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on August 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
For the reader new to Kafka as a writer, there is a lot of baggage to be thrown off: everything implied by the cliche 'Kafkaesque' we've gathered from films, other books and the like (alienation, angst, modern man and the Absurd, the terror of totalitarian bureaucracy, etc.); everything, in other words, that has made a caricature of an original vision.
So, for the first-time reader of Kafka, there are some pleasant surprises in 'the Metamorphosis'. The novella is often very funny - Gregor's orientation to his condition (he enjoys running up the walls and hanging off the ceiling) and the reaction of his family and manager provoke some priceless farcical set-pieces. It is a Gothic story - about a salesman who turns into a monstrous vermin, and the aghast reaction of his family; there are some unexpected frissons in the story we would normally expect from the horror genre. It is a portrait of a complacent middle-class family in decline, a la Galsworthy, or a study of the artist in an impoverished family with a weak but aggressive father, like Joyce's 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. There are even elments of sentimental melodrama in the way Kafka loads up the sympathy for his monster in the face of almost caricatured hostility - I found myself welling up once or twice.
This is not to diminish Kafka's dark and frightening vision, just to suggest how much of his art depends on play, with narrative modes and genres, with narration, with reader's expectations. The horror, anxiety, unease, if you like, is actually quite marginal on the surface - the oppressive vastness of his familiar bedroom as perceived by Gregor in his new form; the endless vista of an adjacent hospital.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By NYC Amazon buyer on May 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a strong translation of a seminal work.
Amazon needs to urgently revise their method for posting reviews. The negative review posted below by Steven Burnap applies to a wholly different text.
On a broader note, there is a disturbing trend on Amazon towards this kind of sloppiness, and it undermines the value of a reference-rich website (e.g., this misplaced review, or posting wholly different texts for "Look Inside", etc.)
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Logan Dalton on November 10, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Literature throughout history has tried to exemplify the personal identity of human beings, but none has done it so creatively and as hilariously as Franz Kafka's masterful novella, "The Metamorphosis". Kafka has created the most absurd situation; a traveling salesman wakes up one morning to find that he has turned into a giant dung beetle. Yet Kafka uses the absurdity of this premise to exemplify how the unfortunate Gregor Samsa (the man-bug) frees himself from a life of servitude and monotony, to assert his own personal identity through his metamorphosis. Franz Kafka uses brilliant symbolism, hilarious tone, and unique characterizations to exemplify the plight and transformation of this unfortunate salesman and it is through these tools that Kafka creates an absurd experience that any reader can relate to.

The use of symbolism throughout this story is what truly allows the reader to understand and appreciate Gregor's push towards independence. Gregor was transformed into a bug, but Kafka uses this transformation as a symbol for Gregor's metamorphosis towards humanity. Before Gregor's transformation, he only lived life to serve others, but through his metamorphosis Gregor slowly comes to meet his own desires, seeking a more personal independence and even coming to appreciate music and art. But most importantly, it is through Gregor's final understanding of love that Kafka truly exemplifies how human the insect truly is. Kafka uses the symbolism of Gregor becoming a bug to represent the tragedy of the life that Gregor was leading, and his metamorphosis symbolizes a more gradual metamorphosis towards an individual humanity. By physically disassociating Gregor from humanity, Kafka perfectly exemplifies how human Gregor has really become.
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