AUTHOR- FRANZ KAFKA
PUBLISHED IN- 1915
This particular book had been in my TBR for so long that I don’t know why I never read it before. Earlier I used to be satisfied with my kindle but it seems as if I have once again developed NPBF (Need Physical Books to Feel) syndrome. (I made it up but that’s beyond the point here.)
This remarkable short story is about Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman who wakes up one day to find himself as an insect. What I found amusing was the details in which it was written. The book accurately described the struggles of even getting out of the bed in the form of an insect. I am still astounded by the intricate details.
The story proceeds with the family members discovering Gregor’s transformation and how they come into terms with it. Earlier Gregor had been the vital element in the running of the household, so now it was upon his father, mother and sister to handle it without him. Unable to understand Gregor anymore, they neglect him entirely and keep him locked in his room, only providing meals. Gregor doesn’t survive for too long and dies eventually as he gets weakened both physically (due to his disinterest in food) and emotionally (due to his family isolating him). The entire family rejoice when they discover that he was no longer alive. Towards the end, they had started to believe that he was no longer a part of their family but only a vermin and that Gregor was long gone. This probably explains the joy that came after his death.
What’s even more interesting than this story is the fact that Kafka’s own life is somehow in parallel with his stories. He never had a good relationship with his father, which is displayed in this book. Even the character of Gregor’s sister was created with examples of his own sister. Kafka’s sister had been his only supporter and here too, Gregor is attended by his sister at all times. And there was this one time when Kafka’s sister had actually not taken his side on an issue. Kafka looked at it in terms of betrayal and towards the end of the book, Gregor’s sister is motivated to kick him out of the house , thus displaying betrayal.
One final note about this book! Even after his transformation, Gregor could identify with music as his sister played her violin. Music is universal. Do animals understand music the way we do? Gregor questions himself about how he could be any different than his former self when he could still feel the music the way he used to do. That broke my heart just a little.