The Metamorphosis and Other Stories

The Metamorphosis and Other Stories


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A man awakens to find himself transformed into a giant vermin; a performer starves himself to death as a circus attraction; a fiendish engine of capital punishment engraves the letter of the law into the body of the condemned. Such are the nightmare scenarios that emerge in the short stories of Franz Kafka, one of the twentieth century’s most formative, mystifying literary figures. Though immediate in their impact, Kafka’s stories invite endless angles of interpretation, from Freudian psychology and existentialist philosophy to animal studies.

This volume presents “The Metamorphosis”—together with several other of Kafka’s best and best-known stories—in a nuanced, clear, and powerful translation by Ian Johnston. The appendices provide philosophical, literary, and cultural context, as well as valuable selections from Kafka’s own letters and drawings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199238552
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 07/26/2009
Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 352,142
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Ian Johnston is a research associate at Vancouver Island University.

Date of Birth:

July 3, 1883

Date of Death:

June 3, 1924

Place of Birth:

Prague, Austria-Hungary

Place of Death:

Vienna, Austria


German elementary and secondary schools. Graduated from German Charles-Ferdinand University of Prague.

Table of Contents

Biographical Preface
Note on the Text
Note on the Translation
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Franz Kafka

Children on the Highway 3
Unmasking a Confidence-Man 5
The Sudden Stroll 7
Decisions 8
The Trip to the Mountains 8
The Bachelor's Distress 9
The Small Businessman 9
Gazing Out Idly 11
The Way Home 11
The Runners 12
The Passenger 12
Dresses 13
The Rebuff 13
For Gentleman-Riders to Think About 14
The Window on to the Street 14
Wish to Become a Red Indian 15
Trees 15
Unhappiness 15


Explanatory Notes
The Judgement
The Metamorphosis
In the Penal Colony
Letter to his Father

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"I think of a Kafka story as a perfect work of literary art, as approachable as it is strange, and as strange as it is approachable."
-Michael Hofmann

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The Metamorphosis and Other Stories (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 254 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Out of the book, I only read 'The Metamorphosis.' It was a school assignment, and I thought it would be incredibly dull, but in fact, the story is fast paced, bizarre, and full of irony and dark humor while still expressing the depths of human nature. I was deeply moved by 'The Metamorphosis,' and I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The uncanny originality of these most remarkable stories and parables by arguably the most precise delineator of the human mind in all its fear , anxiety and beauty will spellbind the reader, and provide Literature at the very highest level. One of the great books which as Camus said of Kafka demands rereading and rereading.
percywinslow More than 1 year ago
Great collection for my ebook library. I can dive into these stories quite easily whenever I'm in the mood for some deep-thought explorations. Kafka was a master of the human condition.
Nazire More than 1 year ago
Franz Kafka is one of my all time favorite writers. The Metamorphosis is a wonderfully written story that relies heavily on dialogue, inner monologue and subtle clues rather than big plot twists although it does establish a solid plot line, just one that is not filled with action in every page. There is a great deal of attention being paid to details so it's important to follow it up. Change is the main theory behind this book, obviously as the name suggests and how humans handle change, our responsibilities that effects the changes we go through and an ugly side of parent and child relationships. The language is a lot different than one a native English speaker is used to, Kafka's use of language, diction and descriptions are quite different than one may be used to. However it creates a great contrast and highlights the differences between U.S. English writers and those of others,which enables one to discover different mentalities in humanity. It's a great read with delightful language that made the mirage of fiction more into a reality for me. Though I must admit, a lot of people have difficulty with this book. So approach it with a grain of salt and an open mind.
Jonbob More than 1 year ago
Excellent read for someone that is just being introduced to the world of Kafka. Great samples of the stile and depth of the writer.
msar13 More than 1 year ago
Metamorphosis and Other Stories provides some of Franz Kafka's best work, including the title story, of course. The Metamorphosis is easily the best story in the book, though there are other gems like "The Stoker" and "In the Penal Colony." As is the case with Kafka, some of the endings are abrupt and can leave you wanting, such as the end to "The Judgment." The one weak story in the book is "Josephine the Singer," which you learn from the introduction was the last piece he ever wrote as he was dying of illness. A must-have for Kafka fans everywhere.
aMenalque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It would be so easy to try and draw themes of politics and society from this book, to discover it was trying to tell you something profound and of great importence. They may, or probably weren't, inentional. But, to really fully experience this book, I found it best to let all those underlying messages go unobserved. They're ties back to the real world, and to experience this novel you need to forget all that, and just becomce totally emersed in Kafka's surreal universe.Leave analysis until later, read the book for enjoyment and emersion first.
WilfGehlen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Metamorphosis / Winter of our discontent / MetempsychosisMetamorphosis, or Why a Bug?Gregor Samsa awoke one morning as a bug. "What has happened to me?" he thought. And that is the last he thought of how he arrived at his predicament. He acts throughout the story as a human Gregor adapting to life in a bug's body.Is Nietzche engaging in a thought experiment on personal continuity in Metamorphosis? What of Gregor is in this bug? He has a bug body, he must have a bug brain to be able to image through bug eyes, to move bug legs. But he has the consciousness of Gregor that initially externalizes itself outside the body, to talk, after a fashion, to stand and unlock the door, after a fashion. He soon loses the ability to talk and ceases to be Gregor to his family. But he has an immensely strong identity, rooted in providing for his family, and never ceases to be Gregor to himself until his death.But why a bug? Others have made the connection between Samsa and Samsara, the Buddhist wheel of life. According to Samsara, one is reborn an animal when one's human life is centered on survival and self-preservation. Gregor's life is centered on his hated job as traveling salesman, which he keeps only to provide for his family.Beyond that, the bug is absurd and creates a comical scene when, for instance, the head clerk flees down the stairs to escape this monstrosity. Gregor never ascribes this flight and fright to his own appearance, heightening the humor. None of us are bugs, though, and never expect to become one. But each of us could be exposed to a similar alienation, separation, isolation. Consider yourself developing a motor neural disease, confined to a wheelchair, losing gross motor functionality, the ability to speak. Like Gregor, you would have trouble opening doors, even moving through some doorways, communicating with your family. Then you regress, confined to bed, breathing through a tube, externally comatose but fully conscious. The situation in reality is not far removed from the absurd.We likely will not develop such a disease, but we can still experience some form of alienation. Are we also trapped in a job because of circumstance? Metamorphosis holds out hope that a situation can improve even when it appears hopeless. The Samsa family can no longer depend on Gregor's salary, they must work themselves, expand beyond the confines of their home. They find that they are quite capable and soon entertain thoughts of a happy future, a possible husband for Gregor's sister Grete. All are transformed through Gregor's metamorphosis, but a slightly less absurd metamorphosis might also have achieved a happy result. Gregor could simply have emigrated to Amerika, leaving his family to their own devices. Perhaps not morally defensible at some level, but better to feel your humanity than to live and die like a bug.
jackichan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really a nice change of pace from so many other works where the plot is of high importance. Kafka is more like a fine meal; the point is not to finish the meal, but rather to enjoy the meal as you are consuming it.All of the stories are morbid and strange, enjoyable nonetheless. His grasp on language and his focus on deeper meaning and metaphors(no pun intended)is really quite impressive.
tyroeternal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Metamorphosis was required reading for me in school, and I have since re-visited it a few times. Short, powerful, and well worth anyone's time.
bderby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Kafka's "The Metamorphosis," Gregor Samsa awakes one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. The theme of personal transformation is clear and the items which are obvious metaphors (e.g. Samsa being an insect, the apple lodged in his back), will allow students to explore what their intended meaning could have been.This book also includes "The Judgement," "In the Penal Colony," "A Country Doctor," and "A Report to an Academy."
jolee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love "The Metamorphosis" and have read it several times. I know some people probably think I'm crazy. (My friend, Natalie, said she could never get over the giant bug thing.) Personally, I love the weirdness of the Modernist period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best stories ever. Imaginative, deep, weird, compelling.
Dietmar1962 More than 1 year ago
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Nothing says "great gift!" like Kafka.
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Its not simply about adjastment to change in life. Kafka attacts the character of any weak human who allows oneself to be first overcharged and used, then changed into helpless creature. Its about the importance of knowing your value and respecting your life, and foreseeing your own destiny. Kafka shows how having others who are willfull and strong in protecting their own being and own lifestyle could bring the wondering one to the ultimate end.
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