Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

This is the first Kafka Story I have read and already I belong to the Kafka clan or the cult. Its only fair that I start with a brief introduction of our Illustrious author.

In his short career, Kafka wrote some of the most amazing pieces of literarture ever put on paper. He died when he was just about 41 years of age but his sheer artistry with words is mind boggling.

The metamorphosis is one of the few short stories which Kafka wrote in his brief career. His brilliance was only recognized after he died and most of his work is posthumous work which his friend got published, though Kafka wanted it all to be destroyed. If his friend would have listened to him, we would have been deprived of this mans profound juxtapositioning of the real versus the imaginary, his vague analogies, his deft touches in each and every word he chose and paradoxically his savagery with them, using the words as a chisel to cut piece by piece or a sword to slash with one clean swipe. Kafka seems to delve into the depths of the human psyche with ease and delivers stories in the first person.

Metamorphosis is about a young man - the bread winner of the house, who gets up one morning and realises that over night he has become a Bug - like a cockroach. What transpires after that is sheer poetry in words. The Human cockroach's each and every thought is layed bare in front of us. His helplessness, his pain, his delight, his effort, his shame, his guilt, his sorrow, his crazving and his ultimate death.

After the man - Gregor gets up that morning, he is already late for work. He is worried that if he does not go to work, he might lose his job and then his family would go hungry, but his sheer helplessness to move and his dreadful appearance prevents him from doing his duty. When his family sees him in this condition, they lock him up in the room. They are ashamed and scared of him. His food is thrown into the room when he is out of sight, no one enters the room and his room's not cleaned for a long time. Basically he is marooned from this world. Kafka delves into the helplessness of this person, who has suddenly metamorphosized into a cockroach and has become reproachable. Even his mother finds him abhorable. His father beats him up with his boots, wounding him, when Gregor tries to come out of the room. He craves love, he craves for belongingness, but dies in loneliness and gloom. His family arrange for the Maid to dispose off his body and only then their normal diurnal activities resume.

It might seem weird; telling a story of a man whos turned into a Bug, but its just an analogy. It might be some disease - like leprosy which had no cure or vaccine in that era. Its the helplessness of a diseased man, shunned by society and his family, which is depicted with such deftness, dexterity and profoundity, whats amazing. Its as relevant today as it was almost a century ago.

This is definitely not for the average reader, for they would be bored or confused at the end of page 1 or might find it some weird concoction of an insane mind. If you skim the surface you would find it to be weird, but if you swim the depths - you would realise the profundness of the analogies. If you do read it, do notice how KAFKA plays with words and your thought process. You would probably have to read everything twice or thrice to really know the real meaning of what Kafka wants to say and I think he wanted it to be that way. He did not care for the ordinary or the frivolous, but the meticulous, the artistic and the intelligent.

Enjoy this classic repeatedly. Its like a sugarcane which has juice in its every straw. The only thing is that you need a big machine - concentration and passion, to squeeze out each and every drop of the nector.



Prabal Aggarwal said...

Sexy man

Sumeet kumar said...

seems like a good read..n very well written mate

Seshagiri said...

Hi, I have already gone through the book and found that you have touched upon something amazing. It took me a lot of sub conscious analysis to come up with the realisation that you have presented here before me. You yourself have played with words with amazing artistry. At the same time, I will be very happy if you delve in deeper into the subject that he tried to portray. Can you please elaborate upon this aspect in the post? That would be one big favour to Kafka himself.

Keep it up

Funda-mentor said...

Hey thanks sumeet.

Sheshagiri , I will definitely try to elaborate on the book a little more, but its dificult to put in words what I want to express. It would take a bit of introspection and I will definitely do it as soon as I am through with it. I do urge u to go thru the book again with what I have said in mind, it would probably open more doors of understanding! I will surely reply asap