“What one writes is only the ashes of one’s experience.”Conversations with Kafka, Gustav Janouch
To wake up one morning, realizing you’ve transformed in a repulsive giant roach-like insect would be a horrifying experience one can imagine. Dread and anxiety overwhelms your mind, thinking how can loved ones approach you in a sane manner.
In Franz Kafka’s novella, the Metamorphosis, our titular protagonist, Gregor Samsa, wakes up from a feverish dream as a giant brown bug. He is horrified at his appearance, revered with disgust and anxiety, fearing how his family or others will react seeing him. The first half of the story details Gregor’s inner turmoil regarding his career, his family, and changes in their livelihood.
Stumbling across this tragic tale was thanks to a dear friend of mine, who read the book for their literature project in high school, . All I knew about the Metamorphosis was a guy who turned into a bug. That was it. I didn’t go in depth of this tale until recently. As an adult, who labored tirelessly in an unfulfilled career, just to maintain a lifestyle of riches for myself and family; The tone of the story stretches closer to a harsher reality.
The Anxiety of Society’s Burden
Researching Franz Kafka, he was known to be always feeling neurotic, believing one day, friends and loved ones will turn him away as grotesque and unlikeable. The constant uneasiness of his internal doom might as well be the seed that bloomed the unfortunate tale of Gregor Samsa. Gregor’s demise could reflect Kafka’s inner monologue of the burden and relief his family might feel about him if he were to become disgusting and useless.
I wonder after finishing the story with a rhetoric. What will happen to us, as we age or become disfigured? What will happen when a productive member of society can no longer contribute? It seems this might be an occurring incident to our elderly or the disabled. The utter somber must have been felt by a grandfather who is no longer needed, but is cared for others out of obligation. A child, lover, or parents, who see their loved ones become something they no longer recognize. I wallow in silence while reflecting on my own worries. Will I be let go from this world and forever isolated from the world I thought I knew? Sometimes I wonder all my hard work, has it been a waste of my life?
For readers, this might be just another tragic fantasy our characters suffer, but one should also take this tale to heart; A comfortable lifestyle might be taken away in a snap. The fear of being useless while questioning any fulfillment for the sake of others, is the real tragedy.
Here are some books I love that has a tone of body horror and the complexity of self-isolation.
Grotesque, Natsuo Kirino
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde The reason I recommend this one is the story details beauty can also create self-isolation.
Interested in the mind of Franz Kafka himself? Conversations with Kafka explores Kafka’s thoughts and experiences, written by his friend, Gustav Janouch. Above the blog is an excerpt from Kafka telling Janouch about personal experience and writing. I haven’t read his other works like the The Castle or The Trial, but they’re on my reading list at the moment!
Enjoy reading The Metamorphosis here
The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
I hope you enjoyed my first book reflection; Note I didn’t say review, because I believe this and upcoming posts will be more sensible and thought provoking based on experience. I will try to post once a week, depending how long I can finish a book honestly. When reading seven books at the same time like watching TV is a routine, sometimes things get in the way. I mean this as an adoration to my books!
As I say adieu, always open your mind to new and old worlds, and Ad Astra per Libras
I’m currently on Goodreads (as one can tell from the links), still working on the kinks of it. Please feel free to let me know what books I should read!