Introduction - Marblehead Public Schools

Franz Kafka: 1883-1924
0 Born to a Jewish family
in Prague
0 Grew up speaking
German, also fluent in
0 Worked as an insurance
adjuster so he could also
write; very few of his
works were published in
his lifetime
0 Contracted TB in 1917,
died of starvation in
relation to the disease in
Prague in 1924
The Metamorphosis (1915)
0 One of the few works of Kafka to be published in his
0 Wanted all his works destroyed upon his death
0 Die Verwandlung = translates to “The Transformation”
0 Also means the changing of a scene in a play
0 Follows the transformation of Gregor Samsa into a
“ungeziefer”, an “unclean animal not fit for sacrifice”
0 Story addressed several changes and transformations
re: all characters
0 The opening of the story is far more important than
the end
0 “the identity [of the beginning] as radical starting point;
the intransitive and conceptual aspect, that which has
no object but its own constant clarification”: Edward
Said, 1968
0 Metaphor – usually clarifies a relation of (A) as
something (B)
0 What happens to metaphor when (A) literally becomes
As a … bug?
0 In “vermin” form, Samsa has lost his physical human
identity which keeps him in isolation, still retains
some higher human functioning
0 Able to remember even if he cannot communicate
0 Does not see himself as truly abhorrent until music
0 Why does Gregor go through this transformation?
0 How are others affected by his change?
0 Things exist and have properties which are
independent from any thoughts, theories, or beliefs
0 Naturalism is an off-shoot of this idea, in that social
conditions, heredity, and environment are inescapable
forces shaping human character and existence
0 Both seek to represent daily life
0 Reaction against rationalism
0 Designed to purposely cause surprise through
unexpected juxtapositions, non sequitur
0 Seeks to liberate imagination from control of reason
0 See the world as a difficult, uncaring place and the
individual must find own path
0 Each person is responsible for making own purpose
and meaning
0 Way to manage the crisis of human existence
0 Conflict between the human tendency to look for
meaning in life and the inability to find any meaning
0 Human efforts will ultimately fail do to the
overwhelming nature of the question
0 The absurd arises from the simultaneous existence of
the human individual and the universe
0 Closely linked to existentialism
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