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The Metamorphosis: A New Translation by Susan Bernofsky Paperback – January 20, 2014
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"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."
"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."
Bernofsky is one of the finest translators of German working today, and her new English version of Kafka s most famous tale of Gregor Samsa, the horrifying and helpless human-sized insect distinguishes itself from previous translations in its first sentence. "
This welcome new edition of The Metamorphosis was translated by Susan Bernofsky in a smoother, less Germanic, more contemporary voice than the Muir version most Anglophone readers remember from school, and is introduced by the master of biological horror, director David Cronenberg. --Andrew Hultkrans"
Susan Bernofsky s new, exacting translation shows just how ingenious the structure of [Metamorphosis] is, and just how difficult it is to render Kafka s German into English. She succeeds brilliantly, however, with a vivid fidelity to Kafka s vision, driving home the way he makes us at once sympathetic to his anti-hero, Gregor Samsa, and repulsed by him. --Arlice Davenport"
Bernofsky has performed an act of magic with her translation. She's found the human inside Kafka's words imploring and beseeching and begging, in his own quiet way, for help and delivered him to us, in flesh and blood. It's a letter that comes more than a century too late, but it's finally been delivered. That, in a quiet and bookish way, is some kind of small act of hope. --Paul Constant"
About the Author
Franz Kafka (1883–1924) was one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His major novels include The Trial, The Castle, and Amerika.
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There are as many interpretations of The Metamorphosis as there are readers. Only the US Constitution compares in the sheer quantity of contentious misreading. In this pocket-sized Bantam edition, the novella itself takes up 53 pages out of 198. Almost three-quarters of the edition are devoted to explanatory notes and contradictory critical essays. My favorite novelists, Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville, would have had this to say to Herr Kafka: "Ships sink under the weight of barnacles."
This Bantam edition is printed on paper guaranteed to turn to dust within two years, with a mercilessly small typeface that squeezes so close to the spine that you'll need to break it apart just to read it. However, the translation by Stanley Corngeld is the most readable and Kafkaesque of any I've looked at. Unless your German is adequate, this is the version to read.
[Oh yeah, by the way... The Metamorphosis is a grrrreat piece of writing!]
When I consider this novel I feel only compassion for the author. Mr Kafka's prodigious talent is wasted on a negative emotion, guilt, which he could have let go of quickly and easily.
If Mr Kafka had only stopped intellectualising defensively in words, and focused on accepting and letting go of his feelings of guilt, self-hate, fear and despair, he could have been free to create something good, beautiful, and true. Then we would have got something remarkable from the man's pen.
I also read Max Brod's ill-informed decision to betray his friend Kafka's wishes in the end notes. The blatant non-integrity in Brod is of course glamorised as a "literary decision", but he made an error. Kafka is correct: we would have been better off without this novel.
So I explained that I like it when the whole premise of the book is explaned in the first page because just like my airplane tickets say where I am going right there on the front when I am going on a trip a book should too. Only here we are going on a journey OF THE MIND. I said it just like that and the librarian just kind of stared at me.
"Um maybe youd like Frank Capra's The Metamorphisis" she said after a long pause. "OK!"
So I went to find it and after some confusion about how to spell the authers name (it's Kapra with a "K") I finally did. Theres a picture of a bug on the cover. I dont like bugs. The first line is something like "Gregory Sampson woke up one morning and he had been turned into a giant monster bug." Well as I said I dont like bugs but stories about bugs I am okay with. We can work with this. Its definitely direct in any case. No beating around the bush for Mr Kapra. Straight to the punch!
Plus! my mind was filled with questions! What turned Gregory into a bug? Does he have super powers now? Is this part of a big multinational conspiracy? Are people turning into bugs all over the place? How will he turn back into a man by maybe useing science? This is called drawing your reader into the story. Good trick. I almost gotta read it now just to see.
Fast forward to the end of this book (SPOILER ALERT)and NONE of my questions are answered. I STILL dont know why was he a bug in the first place. GRRRR. What a jip!
I think there are some good ideas in here but it needs more work especially with the ending. He should turn back into a man or else he should meet another bug and fall in love and decide that hes happier liveing as a beetle.
Theres some free ideas for you Mr Kapra for your next book! Not all bad. I liked some parts! THREE STARS!
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Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka was first published 1915 under the title 'Die Verwandlung'.Read more