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MAXnotes for Metamorphosis (MAXnotes)
Published in Paperback by Research & Education Assn (1996)
Authors: Research and Education Association Staff, Franz Kafka, and Stanley Taikeff
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My thoughts on the Metamorphosis
Kafka is truly a great 20th century author and this book, along with "The Trial" are excellent and open to a huge number of interpretations. The bleak urban settings are some of the most memorable aspects. This book has a lot of essays and explanatory notes in the back that present theories about the deeper meaning (though you will want to think about it yourself before you read them). Why exactly the metamorphosis occurred is an issue you can think about. Gregor first seems to ignore the metamorphosis but later associates it with shame. In fact, it may represent some repressed side of him. Gregor's situation is made even worse by his family's failure to support him.

This book is remarkable in that, while so much literature relies on extraordinary events or characters, the only real extraordinary event here is Gregor's unlucky transformation into a beetle. (Note, Kafka never actually says it is a dung beetle.) Everything after that is quite believeable and, while depressing, probably represents what would happen in real life and what does happen in so many people's lives that are never written about. The book manages to be both surrealist and brutally realistic at the same time.

At once hilarious and heartbreaking, a true masterpiece
Kafka was a troubled man. You can tell by reading one of his books, which feels a lot like perusing someone else's diary, wandering into territory where you aren't entirely welcome but you don't care because the environment is so compelling and mysterious. In Metamorphosis, the main character, Gregor Samsa, turns into a giant insect and is subsequently shunned by his family, a tragedy that, while inexplicably surreal on the surface, makes a genuine impact because of Kafka's likely personal connection to the character (note the similarity between the names Kafka and Samsa). In writing about a man who feels isolated from the world and rejected by those he loves, he ultimately writes about himself, and the result is a doubly depressing but nonetheless incredible book well worth anyone's time.

Metamorphosis is tragic, but it also has moments of sheer comic brilliance. It is one of the few pieces I've read that actually made me laugh out loud when no one else was around. Yet even as I laughed at one ridiculous situation or another, there was a sadness to it that wouldn't let go of me, an underlying despondence that kept me perpetually close to tears. When a book affects you that much, there's something beautiful about it.

Beautiful it is, and this is a terrific version, complete with myriad literary criticisms and miscellaneous articles in the back (the "novel" itself is only something like 60 pages) covering a wide range of pertinent topics. Some of the essays are interesting, some are ridiculous; many of them make great classroom discussions (such as the interpretation that equates the notorious apple-projectile with a certain male body part). Great fun, great fun.

Seriously, this is an amazing book--not boring, as many classics are--that you could easily read in two or three hours. Heck, I did, and it turned out to be one of my all-time favorites. Trust me. This is good.

Only a great writer could make me feel sorry for a "vermin"
Kafka stuns me. In the time it takes most writers to write a chapter, introduce a character, or illustrate a setting, Kafka lucidly conveys the sincere emotions associated with 20th century dissolutionment--and writes a damn good story. In 60 pages!

This book is even quicker than it's 60 pages implies. The words flow and you will be drawn in. I truly felt sorry for Gregor, I wanted his sister to recognize him. This book begins weird and I was not sure about it. Even as it progressed, I was wary of its path. When Gregor first retreated to under the couch and put the sheet over him, it hit me hard. This poor, helpless man was hated by everyone, for being who he was. This book told me as much about the human condition as books ten times it's length.

ADVICE: Spend 2 hours of your life and read this book. Then think for 2 days about it.


Ah, Eurydice!.
Published in Paperback by Dramatist's Play Service (1977)
Author: Stanley Taikeff
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