I got this book at college when the bookstore was having a massive clearance sale. It only cost $0.75. This edition was published by Dover and contains five Franz Kafka short stories. I will be writing a short review of each one.
- The Judgment: This story featured a young man writing to his friend who had moved to the city in Russia. He writes to his friend about all the monotonous details of his life, but eventually decides to mention that he’s getting married. When he informs his father that he’s written his friend about his impending nuptials, his father loses it and they have a huge argument that ends disastrously. This story was interesting to me, though I didn’t really understand it at first.
- The Metamorphosis: This story begins with a young traveling salesman who wakes up to find that he’s turned into a giant cockroach. While his family tries to accommodate this change at first, in the hopes that he’ll get better, it soon becomes clear that he’s doomed to spend his life as an insect. However, when money starts to get tight, the family begins to wonder what they should do with him. This story horrified me, to be perfectly honest. Objectively speaking, it was well-written and very original. However, I personally did not enjoy it at all.
- In the Penal Colony: This story featured an explorer witnessing an execution in a penal colony. The execution took place with the use of an elaborate machine that inscribed the sentence of the condemned onto their backs in a long and painful process. By the time the machine had finished, the prisoner would be dead. The continued use of the machine was in debate, and the officer in charge of the executions wanted to justify its use. However, his desire to prove the elegance of this killing machine soon took a turn for the worse. This story, while interesting, was incredibly graphic and slightly terrifying. I liked it to an extent, because I appreciate the irony of the ending.
- A Country Doctor: This story focuses on a country doctor in need of horses to make it a house on an emergency call. While he manages to find a pair of horses, the groom who owns them stays behind to rape and ravage the doctor’s maid. Upon arrival at the patient’s house, the doctor initially thinks of him as healthy, but soon discovers a hidden wound. This story was interesting. It was written in the first person, which was different than the others. However, I didn’t quite understand most of what went on in the story.
- A Report to an Academy: This story was about an ape who got captured in Africa. In the desire to be free, he learned to imitate the actions and behaviors of the humans around him. Eventually, the ape became so humanlike that he decided he wasn’t an ape any more. This was probably my favorite of the short stories in this book. It was very original, interesting, and well-written.
Overall, I would not recommend The Metamorphosis and Other Stories to anyone, unless they were looking for a challenging read and liked darker stories.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!