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The Metamorphosis Paperback – July 20, 2004
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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 alternate Paperback edition.
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 alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The story follows Joseph K while he is on trial by a seemingly arbitrary court system. What starts out feeling like a cautionary tale about misplaced and abused power quickly gets stranger and morphs into a story of a deeper and more personal trial. Before long, you notice that K is the one who seems to be doing the work of trying himself.
I was left thinking for a long time about the meaning behind the story and a lot of its symbols and components - I don't consider the fact that I still had questions to be a bad thing. On the contrary, this one left me feeling strangely energized.
Highly recommended for people who like philosophy, examinations of the human condition, or existentialism.
It's been debated as to what is really Kafka's novel all about. Some say, it's "hero"(?) Joseph K. represents the "every man". Who has been forced to live in a world, where's man's biggest sin is being himself. The character K. like Kafka himself feels they are an outsider in a world they cannot function in. Others still, see the book as merely a semi-autobiography as Kafka's own feelings of worthlessness. We all know Kafka even doubted his own talents as a writer. But, yet again, others think that "K." is not the "every man". That he is guilty of his "sins".
So, what does all of this prove? It simply goes to show you the impact Franz Kafka has left on the world. Here we have a book published in 1925 and still causes debate as to what exactly were Kafka's intentions. If, infact, he didn't have any intentions!
'The Trial', to me is a story of a man's loneliness. It's a story of man who probably is guilty of what he is charged with. And we slowly read about his desent into a world of paranoia. I've heard some people agrue that what happens to "K." is all merely a dream. None of it ever really happened, but, it was "K." himself who brought this punishment on himself. Sort of like how Kafka himself did by never marrying the girl he loved, by living in the shadows of his father, who he adored, and never having an self confidence. If what happens in 'The Trial' is a dream, you can bet "K." learned something.
There's something about Kafka that fasincates me. He is one of my favorite authors. I find Kafka himself to be just as interesting has the stories he wrote. People tend to forget or overlook something in Kafka's writing. He WAS funny. His novels all have moments that are truly inspired. One of my favorite chapters in this book deals with "The Painter". What happens has "K." trys to leave and the Painter stops him asking him if he wants to buy a painting had me laughing.
For those of you who have never read this book, I do completely recommend it. You will find the book to be fascinating. Kafka was a master of thinking up these surreal stories. You may be bothered by the book's conclusion. Not that you'll mind the final act against "K." but, you'll be bothered by the way it happens. You would have expected more of a set-up. I know I did. Others who read the book may feel the book is incomplete. And that may lead them to dislike it. You are right in your judgement that the book is incomplete, but, remember, Kafka never wanted any of his books published. There's actually a chapter in here that was never finished. And, even though it is incomplete that didn't stop me from truly enjoying this masterpiece. If you have never read anything by Kafka, this is a fine place to start. I hope everyone finds 'The Trial' to be as enjoyable as I did.
Bottom-line: One of the great works by Kafka. It touches on themes that were ahead of their time. Themes that are still around us today. An excellent example of the paranoid mind. Everyone should read this!
But wait, there's more!
Let's be clear: Kafka wrote his "Original Version" in a (mostly school and self-taught) German. This publication is in English, and so it must, therefore, draw on one of the many fine translations now available. Note, of course, that the publication information listed above does not detail the name of the translator. This is doubly appalling: it is misleading to those who are not Kafka scholars and want to take Kafka seriously. They may think this is some "authentic" or "original" version, both of which are--by definition--false claims.
Personally, if you want the best (and most recent) translation, I'd recommend purchasing Stanley Corngold's translation, available through the fine Norton (Critical) series. There are a few critically acclaimed translations out there--and as every reader of Kafka knows, the translation makes all the difference!--but Corngold does a good job sticking to the surface of the language (e.g. he oftentimes draws one's attention to the intended puns or word play in Kafka's original German text). Either way: At least Norton acknowledges the presence of a translator, and it perturbs me greatly, as it should you, that this publisher does not acknowledge its translator. Either they ripped off someone else's work and did not acknowledge it (most shameful and most likely), or they developed their own, in-house translation and are embarrassed to take credit (even more shameful and disturbing, though intriguing).
Let's be even clearer: Corngold's edition The Metamorphosis (Norton Critical Editions) is over 200 pages, with footnotes, critical essays, and a bibliography. It costs $11.50 off of this website. This latest edition is $14.00 and is 56 pages long. This is a re-printing scam if I ever saw one, especially since the story itself in Corngold's edition only takes up 39 pages (with footnotes). This publisher must have printed it in size 15 font just to bulk up the book. A super-sham!
One final, parenthetical note: Walter Benjamin, a German literary and cultural critic--whose seminal essay "The Task of the Translator" explores the impossibility of communicability through translation, and who is perhaps now recognized as one of the most insightful Kafka critics--would be utterly disgusted by such a Kafka sham in its claim to an "Original Version".
As someone embarking on a lifelong journey with Kafka, do yourself a favor: don't buy this edition. Buy Corngold's--it's jam-packed with all sorts of great stuff.