Translated from German by Stanley Corngold
(First published in German 1915; this English translation first published 1972)
This novella is most certainly and most undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of Kafka. It doesn’t only have the trademark eerie characterisation of Kafkaesque absurdity but also the shocking array of human feelings and its glaring contradictions compressed into a small work with remarkable economy of words.
The protagonist Gregor Samsa’s travails start when one day he wakes to find himself transformed into a large vermin. Kafka’s dealing with the inner mind of Samsa and his collection of thoughts as he finds himself in the body of a vermin trying desperately to communicate with his family forms the heart of the story.
The callousness of close relations at finding you not how they like you to be, or how they are used to seeing you, and sudden and complete reversal of their feelings for you when your physical form changes, even though you are the same Samsa you were a night before you were transformed into an ugly vermin, informs deeply on human psychological perceptions of reality, family and relationships.
How the family was relieved and happy and took an outing on the boat after the ugly vermin Samsa died of his wounds was unsettling and sad.
My rating 5/5, easily. Get it on AMAZON.