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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: 0.5 x 4.3 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (304 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,760 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

117 of 130 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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50 of 53 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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40 of 43 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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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By coolhand on June 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I personally prefer Stanley Appelbaum's translation which flows better than the others I have read. . I hope this helps as a guide.

Here is the first paragraph from The Metamorphosis from various translations..

Stanley Appelbaum:
"When Gregor Samsa awoke from troubled dreams one morning, he found that he had been transformed in his bed into an enormous bug. He lay on his back, which was hard as armor, and, when he lifted his head a little, he saw his belly -- round, brown, partitioned by archlike ridges -- on top of which the blanket, ready to slip off altogether, was just barely perched. His numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of his girth, flickered helplessly before his eyes."

Ian Johnston:
"One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. He lay on his armour-hard back and saw, as he lifted his head up a little, his brown, arched abdomen divided up into rigid bow-like sections. From this height the blanket, just about ready to slide off completely, could hardly stay in place. His numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of his circumference, flickered helplessly before his eyes."

Donna Freed (the translation found in most kindle editions):
As Gregor Samsa awoke from unsettling dreams one morning, he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. He lay on his hard armorlike back and when he raised his head a little he saw his vaulted brown belly divided into sections by stiff arches from whose height the coverlet had already slipped and was about to slide off completely. His many legs, which were pathetically thin compared to the rest of his bulk, flickered helplessly before his eyes.
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