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The Metamorphosis Paperback – October 17, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kuper has adapted short works by Kafka into comics before, but here he tackles the most famous one of all: the jet-black comedy that ensues after the luckless Gregor Samsa turns into a gigantic bug. The story loses a bit in translation (and the typeset text looks awkward in the context of Kuper's distinctly handmade drawings). A lot of the humor in the original comes from the way Kafka plays the story's absurdities absolutely deadpan, and the visuals oversell the joke, especially since Kuper draws all the human characters as broad caricatures. Even so, he works up a suitably creepy frisson, mostly thanks to his drawing style. Executed on scratchboard, it's a jittery, woodcut-inspired mass of sharp angles that owes a debt to both Frans Masereel (a Belgian woodcut artist who worked around Kafka's time) and MAD magazine's Will Elder. The knotty walls and floors of the Samsas' house look like they're about to dissolve into dust. In the book's best moments, Kuper lets his unerring design sense and command of visual shorthand carry the story. The jagged forms on the huge insect's belly are mirrored by folds in business clothes; thinking about the debt his parents owe his employer, Gregor imagines his insectoid body turning into money slipping through an hourglass. Every thing and person in this Metamorphosis seems silhouetted and carved, an effect that meshes neatly with Kafka's sense of nightmarish unreality.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Gregor Samsa wakes up and discovers he has been changed into a giant cockroach. Thus begins "The Metamorphosis," and Kuper translates this story masterfully with his scratchboard illustrations. The text is more spare, but the visuals are so strongly rendered that little of the original is changed or omitted. Though the story remains set in Kafka's time, Kuper has added some present-day touches, such as fast-food restaurants, that do not detract from the tale. He has used the medium creatively, employing unusual perspectives and panel shapes, and text that even crawls on the walls and ceilings, as Gregor does. The roach has an insect body but human facial expressions. Once he is pelted with the apple, readers can watch his rapid decline, as his body becomes more wizened and his face more gaunt. This is a faithful rendition rather than an illustrated abridgment.
Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: Tribeca Books (October 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936594005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936594009
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (485 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Maria Savva on November 29, 2009
A man wakes up one day to find he has been changed into a large insect/beetle. The story follows his efforts to deal with this, and his family's reaction to the change. But it's not just a story about a man turning into a beetle, it's a clever way of writing about how a family would deal with the main breadwinner in the house becoming unable to work, and also on a wider scope, the way a family (and the world at large) reacts to someone who is disabled, or terminally ill. It could also be an analogy for how a family treats a member of the family who is now old and needs to be cared for. The man who is now a beetle, is forced to live in his room, shut away from the world, for fear that he will frighten anyone who enters the house. The man who once provided for the family, and thought of them above himself, has now become a burden on them, as they are now short of money, and have to find employment. The once able and hard-working man, transformed into a beetle, is now rejected, and his family blame him for their financial situation and the fact that they cannot move to a smaller house, because they need to have a room to keep him in.
The descriptive quality of the writing is excellent, and although it is a sad and gruesome tale, it is also very funny in parts; I couldn't help laughing out loud a couple of times.
The main thing that struck me, was that even though this story is nearly 100 years old, it is still totally relevant to today's world (and I'm not sure that's something we should be proud of)
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127 of 140 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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46 of 49 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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