Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (Translated by William Aaltonen)

This book review is more of Metamorphosis Kafka Analysis. If you're already an adult, you might reflect easier with this book because of your long experiences in life (do you?). Or if you're a student looking for an answers for your literature analysis work given to you by your teacher, you might find this post a good guide with your research (please don't forget to note my site as your reference).

The Metamorphosis Book Details:

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka Front Cover
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka Front Cover
Title: Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung)
Original Language: German
Translated to: English
Translated by: William Aaltonen
ISBN: 9781848372023
Genre: Novella, Absurdist Fiction
Publisher: Arcturus Publishing Limited
Edition Published: 2008
Originally Published: 1915
Format: Hardcover
Page: 128

Metamorphosis Characters:
- Gregor Samsa (siblings)
- Grete Samsa (siblings)
- Mr. Samsa (father)
- Mrs. Samsa (mother)

Just a reminder, if this is your first time to read Metamorphosis, skip Mr. Aaltonen's Introduction because it will spoil some part of the story and you may not understand what he's discussing about. I recommend you read it last.

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka Back Cover
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka Back Cover

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka without Dusk Jacket
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka without Dusk Jacket

Just a brief summary of the Metamorphosis - the main character of Metamorphosis is Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman who one day, upon waking up, he found himself transformed into an insect-like body. Given his body transformation, his life severely change and gave many misfortunes to the Samsa family. And til Gregor Samsa's last breath, the family continues their life. They've learned how to live diligently and learned to work hard on their own, like never before.

What i like about the Metamorphosis novel by Kafka is it still portrays the current society we're living in. Perhaps, the country I'm living in. Not yours. Particularly, my 3rd-world country - the Philippines, where the nature of helping one's own family are all relied on one-man member, who could be the father or the oldest sibling. This is what we called "Padre de Familia" or the Family Guy.

I pity Gregor Samsa for being helpless and wrongly judged by his family. He couldn't tell Grete and neither his parents about what he really needs with his condition. Maybe because he is shameful for being useless. True in real world. When you get sick, your friends will be there when you're already laid at the funeral. When you got limp, who will help you? Do you think, your family will help you forever?

Compare Gregor Samsa's insect-transformation to natural occurrence of human-changing condition, in real life. Say you suddenly got Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) while you're living in poverty and you don't have enough money to support your helpless condition. How does it feel? Would you rather die? Or live?

If you're in Gregor Samsa's condition, would you rather die and let your family have a happy life? Or live and let your family taste grief and misfortunes?

Metamorphosis is simple and the message it's trying to send is easy to interpret and to be compared in our real world.

If you're going to ask me if you should buy this novel - buy it BUT not this book translated by William Aaltonen (published by Arcturus). I'm very disappointed with his Introduction. Not that i read it first and got spoiled but because he added redundant context about a theologian who sees Kafka's novel with shallow interpretation. Also, I noticed some missing punctuation on some chapters. The bindings and physical condition of this book is good. As a whole, It's average quality. Arcturus should have re-checked and sought this translators work. A dishonor to Kafka's masterpiece.

My rating for this Kafka novel is: 4.5 / 5.0 (Note about my rating: i disregarded the quality of the book and the translator's erratas; i just rated the story)


Other Reference:


  1. Maraming beses ko na ito plinanong basahin noong college, hindi ko matuloy-tuloy. Kakaiba may kalakip na spoiler sa intro...

    1. Ako naman, binasa ko ito nung College rin ako. Natapos ko pero di ako sigurado kung may naintindihan ako. Binasa ko ulit ito ngayong month kasi National Reading Month. Ngayon ko lang siya na-appreciate :)

  2. Awesome! Another addition to my reading list. It would be nice to read books with our coffee, don't you think? Poor us :(

    1. If you're going to read his Metamorphosis novel, try the new translation by Susan Bernofsky. Not the one i reviewed here which was translated by William Aaltonen. It got a poor introduction and some missing punctuation. But it didn't affect the goodness of the story. It's just the translator and the publisher...

      Thanks! :)

  3. Wow, 4.5/5 rating. I better check this out then. Thanks for the reviews. ^^

  4. Nice book, I also appreciate your collection of other books, hoping to find some books on training the mind ^_^

  5. It sounds interesting. Perhaps I'll try this the next time I buy a new book!

  6. It's great that you mentioned which book to buy so it would not waste the money of book hoarders such as myself. Hehe! I've heard a fellow book reader mention this book to me but was not that interested because I'm not a fan of this kind of genre but giving me an overview kind of made me interested now. I guess, I'll give this a read but I won't buy a book for myself since it's not really something I'd like to add in my collection but if I find it great read, then of course, I'll add it in my shelves.

  7. Judging from your review. Say, this is the story where a lot of people can relate. That might spoiled me a bit, but hey, I'd like to add this on my reading list.

  8. Your review makes me wanna read this book and seeing the comment of others. Hope I can find some time and go back again to reading. Since I'm very busy with my work now. This is definitely on my reading list. Thank you for always providing me good information on what book to read. I hope someday I can sit back and just read all of them and share my insights with you.

  9. Heya, not into reading but after this article (i even scanned your other writeups!), I think I'll read more! I love your website and your name! It's awesome!! You'll have a regular follower here! x