Before I begin, I must take the time to mention that this is my first word post of 2010! Sure, I’ve been updating the webcomic all along, but this starts out in writing the new year, and with it, the new decade. I hope this decade will be a meaningful one, for both myself and everyone. But for now, I digress.
So, can you guess what I was doing on Christmas day, December 25th of 2009, from 10 pm to 11:40 pm? If you said, “Reading The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka,” you would be completely right! (How surprising?!)
It wasn’t even a Christmas present or anything—I simply stumbled upon the Wikipedia page for The Metamorphosis and found the premise interesting. So, I googled metamorphosis, kafka, text, and found Project Gutenberg‘s free, online eBook version of Franz Kafka’s work. This was at 10 pm. About 100 minutes later, with some distraction, I finished the book. (It’s actually not the only book I read in one sitting this winter break. It was, however, the first book I had ever read online from cover to cover.)
So, the question is, what was so intriguing about this novella? Well, I think the beginning sentence says enough: “One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin” [Project Gutenberg has the translation by David Wyllie]. This right away draws the reader in, provoking the question as to how this happened and what effects it is going to have.
I really liked this book. I’m not sure why yet. I guess I just love authors who have the main characters explain their thoughts very meditatively. It felt like Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Shadow, where a large portion of the book consists of Bean’s thoughts; The Metamorphosis gives this same deep, personal connection, as a large part of it consists of Gregor Samsa’s thoughts. Perhaps this is why I thought so highly of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot—Vladimir and Estragon were pretty much thinking out loud for most of the play.
Compare the above books to say, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Not a lot of thinking there. Same with E. M. Forster’s Passage to India, or Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Needless to say, I did not enjoy these books as much.
Aside from the openness of Gregor Samsa, I was impressed by the natural flow of the story. Even if there is some magic at the beginning, everything after the first sentence is very, very realistic. The book did not seem as if it were written for the sake of being written (as many books indeed do), but rather, it was written to tell a story. And it does a superb job at that.
I will stop here for now, as I realize that some readers of this blog (ahem) may be reading the book in the next few days, and I do not wish to spoil anything of the work.