Friday, 15 July 2016

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka


Reading Metamorphosis again after a long time I now savour its extreme oddness and the elements of black humour. I especially think that the three nobly bearded lodgers are a masterstroke of farce who view the apparition of a giant insect as an affront and a contract breaker.
These earnest gentlemen - all three of them had full beards, as Gregor learned peering through the crack in the door one day - were painfully insistent on things' being tidy. This meant not only in their own room but, since they had taken a room in this establishment, in the entire flat and especially in the kitchen. Unnecessary clutter was something they could not tolerate, especially if it was dirty.

Only the firmness of old Samsa drove them away after the demise of Gregor who had not even the satisfaction of super powers and only his family as collective nemesis. The dream time logic where you become your tutelary insect is matched by fluxion in the narrative. Gregor before he hatched was a struggling salesman yet he kept them all going in a big flat with a servant, the father being incapacitated and in debt. Then it seems there is a little money and the three, Father, Mother, Daughter, take to work when Gregor is transmogrified. Yet they are poor.

The chief clerk who has come to the flat to see why Gregor has not come to work gets a shock:
But the chief clerk had turned away as soon as Gregor had started to speak, and, with protruding lips, only stared back at him over his trembling shoulders as he left. He did not keep still for a moment while Gregor was speaking, but moved steadily towards the door without taking his eyes off him. He moved very gradually, as if there had been some secret prohibition on leaving the room. It was only when he had reached the entrance hall that he made a sudden movement, drew his foot from the living room, and rushed forward in a panic. In the hall, he stretched his right hand far out towards the stairway as if out there, there were some supernatural force waiting to save him.

No, there was no point in sending in a sick note.


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