The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous insect.
I don’t know why I waited so long to read this famous novella; right from its famous opening line it turned out to be much more readable (and even funny) than I had thought. My take on it is that the modern lives of humans are the same as the lives of vermin. Constant scurrying, selfishness, and unawareness of the world and family beyond routine survival make us no different than rats or cockroaches. It is only through self-inflection, selflessness, and actions based on love that we can metamorphose into the real and beautiful human existence.
Finally reading The Metamorphosis was largely due to recently reading Cockroach. I see an implicit statement now that the life of the immigrant in Cockroach is an inhuman one. He left a life of crime in Iran, but it was motivated by taking care of his family – his life of crime in Montreal is motivated by his own survival and it is only here that he becomes a cockroach to himself and others. When we are slaves to survival or to routine, our lives are as meaningless as the bug’s underfoot.
With the opening sentence of this novella, Franz Kafka introduced modern man to his interior condition. After awakening to discover he has been transformed into an enormous insect, Gregor Samsa becomes an object of disgrace to his family and is left to hide away within the confines of his room.