The Metamorphosis (by Franz Kafka)

Kafka, Franz

Franz Kafka (fränts käf´kä), 1883–1924, German-language novelist, b. Prague. Along with Joyce, Kafka is perhaps the most influential of 20th-century writers. From a middle-class Jewish family from Bohemia, he spent most of his life in Prague. He studied law and then obtained an executive position in the workmen's compensation division of the Austro-Hungarian government. Most of his works were published posthumously. His major novels include Der Prozess (1925, tr. The Trial, 1937, 1998), Das Schloss (1926, tr. The Castle, 1930, 1998), and Amerika (1927, tr. 1938), the latter the first novel he wrote (1913) and the last to be published. In prose that is remarkable for its clarity and precision, Kafka presents a world that is at once real and dreamlike and in which individuals burdened with guilt, isolation, and anxiety make a futile search for personal salvation. Important stories appearing during his lifetime were "Das Urteil" (1913, tr. "The Judgement," 1945), Die Verwandlung (1915, tr. The Metamorphosis, 1937), "Ein Landarzt" (1919, tr. "A Country Doctor," 1945), In der Strafkolonie (1920, tr. In the Penal Colony, 1941), and "Ein Hungerkünstler" (1922, tr. "A Hunger Artist," 1938).

See his diaries, ed. by M. Brod (tr. 1948–49); his letters to Felice Bauer, ed. by E. Heller and J. Born (tr. 1973); biographies by M. Brod (1937, new ed. 1995), R. Hayman (1981, repr. 2001), E. Pawel (1984), N. Murray (2004), R. Stach (2 vol., 2002–8, tr. 2005–13), and S. Friedländer (2013); studies by W. H. Sokel (1966), E. Heller (1974), S. Corngold (1988), and M. Anderson (1990).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1988
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Kafka: Gender, Class, and Race in the Letters and Fictions
Elizabeth Boa.
Clarendon Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Double Taboo: The Male Body in The Judgement, The Metamorphosis, and In the Penal Colony"
The Terror of Art: Kafka and Modern Literature
Martin Greenberg.
Basic Books, 1968
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Gregor Samsa and Modern Spirituality"
The Erotic Bird: Phenomenology in Literature
Maurice Natanson.
Princeton University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Six "The Metamorphosis"
Splintered Reflections: Images of the Body in Trauma
Jean Goodwin; Reina Attias.
Basic Books, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Kafka's The Metamorphosis: Biographical Sources of a Literary Case of Animal Transformation" begins on p. 263
The Empathic Reader: A Study of the Narcissistic Character and the Drama of the Self
J. Brooks Bouson.
University of Massachusetts Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Three "Insect Transformation as a Narcissistic Metaphor in Kafka's Metamorphosis"
Reflections on Kafka's Urban Reader
Reitter, Paul; Wheeler, Brett.
German Politics and Society, Vol. 23, No. 1, Spring 2005
Theorizing the Avant-Garde: Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity
Richard Murphy.
Cambridge University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Kafka's Photograph of the Imaginary: Dialogical Interplay between Realism and the Fantastic (The Metamorphosis)"
Stages of the Clown: Perspectives on Modern Fiction from Dostoyevsky to Beckett
Richard Pearce.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1970
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Transformation: Dostoevsky's Idiot and Kafka's 'Metamorphosis'"
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