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Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Metamorphosis and Other Stories - Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis and Other Stories presents five disturbing short stories by Franz Kafka.

Franz Kafka is a short story writer, who was highly influential especially when it comes to the concept of existentialism. Translations of his original works from German are difficult due to his use of idioms, sentence structure, and ambiguous terminology.

As indicated by the title of this anthology, he is probably best known for The Metamorphosis, which follows a man named Gregor, who works incredibly hard to support his parents and sister. One day he awakens to find himself in the shape of a bug and slowly even his mind transforms into one.

Another lengthy short story in this anthology is titled The Penal Colony in which an explorer is ordered to observe the penal system of an unfamiliar land. He watches and decides whether or not this system is just, and in so doing finds himself guilty of a crime himself.

The remainder of the anthology is made up of three short works. In The Judgement a young man struggles to explain the realities of life to his father who is failing in health of both body and mind. Despite all of his help, his old man curses him with grave consequences. A Country Doctor finds himself at the mercy of fate when he goes out to heal a injured young man. And finally, a captured monkey gives his view of being imprisoned in A Report to an Academy.

Each of these works has an obvious interpretation, such as self-loathing in The Metamorphosis, but others may be hidden to the lay reader. Kafka's stories are most often read by students in literature classes, but they are enjoyable on their own, as well.

Recommended Reads:
Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller
The Stranger - Albert Camus
The Glass Menagerie - Tennessee Williams

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