READ PART I of the Metamorphosis (attached above) [pages 1-11].

Here is some background information about our good friend, Franz Kafka.

Background: Franz Kafka, one of the most influential writers of the early twentieth century, was born in Prague in 1883 and died in 1924. He was Jewish in Catholic Czechoslovakia, the son of a German-speaking shopkeeper. His father pushed him into business but he was interested in literature. Kafka lived with his parents most of his life although he felt neglected by his mother and pressured by his father. He earned a law degree and worked in a large accident-insurance corporation until he died of tuberculosis in 1924. Before his death he published a number of short stories and two novellas, including The Metamorphosis (1915). His executor Max Brod ignored Kafka's instructions to burn his manuscripts, instead publishing three novels that were nearly completed at his death. The predicaments and terrors described in his writing have been considered relevant to modern readers since Kafka's early death. He did not live to see his three sisters die in concentration camps, but some of his works seem to predict conditions of the World War II Holocaust. In his personal writings and fiction, Kafka reveals the torment and frustrations of his life: his illness, lack of success in love, unhappiness with his family, resentment of his bureaucratic job and an indifferent or oppressive society, and general feelings of inferiority.

His characters' lonely search for the meaning of individual existence in a meaningless or indifferent world reflects Kafka's existentialist views of life. People who are not dependent on older belief systems or institutions have freedom that also brings anxiety and guilt with the responsibility for constructing the meaning of one's own existence. Kafka had no association with Surrealist writers or artists, who saw hidden miracles of existence behind everyday reality. Kafka's works are sometimes called surreal because of his blend of matter-of-fact everyday reality and dream or nightmare images, but his vision of the ordinary person's impossible struggles to control life is quite different from the views of the Surrealists who came after him. Like absurdist writers of the mid-twentieth century, Kafka depicted irrational, anguished people in nightmarish situations, unable to form significant relationships with(in) their environment. Later in the twentieth century, the development of magic realism might also be compared with Kafka's writing, as fantastic events are depicted as if they are a part of everyday reality.

Now, contemplate the following questions for Discussion today!:) ANSWER BOTH PLEASE:)

1. Here is an excerpt from Susan Bernofsky (full article below:), a recent translator of Kafka's “Metamophosis”:

The story’s protagonist, Gregor Samsa, is the quintessential Kafka anti-hero. He has worked himself to the point of utter exhaustion to pay off his parents’ debts, and his grotesque metamorphosis is the physical manifestation of his abasement. What exactly is he transformed into? In Kafka’s correspondence with his publisher, he was adamant that the “insect” (Insekt) not be depicted on the jacket of the book. And although he and his friends used the word “bug” (Wanze) when referring casually to the story, the language that appears in the novella itself is carefully chosen to avoid specificity.

She goes on to translate the German words “ungeheueres Ungeziefer” : the adjective ungeheuer(meaning “monstrous” or “huge”) and “Ungeziefer describes the class of nasty creepy-crawly things.”

1. So FIRST, when YOU read, what did you picture?:) [find quotes/passages that gave you this impression – and if you want, find a picture of this 'vermin' and copy/paste it to the Discussion Board]

And then, why, do YOU think, Kafka used “fuzzy” unclear language to describe Gregor's transformation? In other words, he could have said “cockroach” or “beetle,” but he leaves it ambiguous….WHY?

2. WHY doesn't Gregor, or even his family for that matter, ever question WHY Gregor has been transformed? They worry about the consequences, especially monetary, but never seem to search for the REASONS behind the metamorphosis. What does this imply about Gregor and his family?