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IlanaSimons
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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

[ Edited ]

leoo wrote:
The concept of a "disease-bearer" is interesting, but does the German "Ungeziefer" have exactly the same connotation as the English "vermin."




I can see Gregor as the everyman insofar as this guy spends most of his life with a boring job, feeling an indebtedness to others that keeps him in place. He's played the job that his surroundings have asked him to play.
Then one morning he awakes to the most _basic_ human anxieties: i.e. I'm more alone than I had imagined when I was keeping so busy. I'm now out of touch with my identity. The more I think about my isolation, the more crippling it is, etc..

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 01-29-200703:38 PM




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donyskiw
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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

I'm reading the Everyman edition of Kafka's Collected Stories and my translation specifically says "insect". In addition, Gregor does insect-like things. He likes to crawl on the walls and ceiling of his room, something his sister indulges by moving his furniture out.

In this story, Kafka doesn't explain much of what happens to people other than the immediate family. The cook who begs to leave promises on her knees not to tell a soul about the giant bug, but no one else seems to say anything, not the boarders, the chief clerk, the servant girl, the new cook who insists on being locked into the kitchen, nor the charwoman. You'd think someone would have let the story out by now.

Denise
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Part I: Absurdity

[ Edited ]
So far, nearly everything is absurd, especially the reaction of the father to GS's run for the head clerk: why didn't the father run, too?


IlanaSimons wrote:
How does Kafka pull off his absurdist voice or his humor?

Message Edited by pmath on 01-31-200712:15 PM

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rbehr
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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text


IlanaSimons wrote:
Question 1: Holes in the Text

Our story opens on one of the most famous lines in literature:
"As Gregor Samsa awoke from unsettling dreams one morning, he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin."

It is important that this word is translated as “vermin,” and not, as it sometimes is, as “cockroach,” “insect,” or “bug.” Kafka wanted the word to be slightly abstract. Why do you think he wanted an open-ended word here?

A starter idea:
The theorist Wolfgang Iser described the “gaps” that exist in a book. Good literature, Iser said, does not fill in all the details; the resulting “gaps” are the prod for a reader’s imagination. Well-modeled “gaps” can propel us to think in dynamic, new ways. In Kafka’s deadpan narration and minimalist physical descriptions, he leaves us plenty of “gaps.” Describe some places in which he opens up new territory for the reader’s thinking. How does he do it?

How does Kafka pull off his absurdist voice or his humor?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 12-26-200612:06 PM




I'm just joining the session and reading fast to catch up.

Here is a question posed to me by the text (I've only finished section one and a bit of section two): Is Gregor losing or gaining his sense of reality. When the story starts, his physical self is a bug (vermin), but, he perceives himself as a man. As the story is developing, he is perceiving himself less as a man and more as a bug/vermin and is portraying more bug/vermin characteristics (likes to crawl up walls, comfortable under the couch rather than on the bed). So, is he going away from, or going toward reality - if he's a bug/vermin he's going toward reality; if he's a man he's going mad. Another possible interpretation (I'm sure there are many) is that he is describing how people adapt to their conditions over time. Lots to think about.
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ELee
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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

rbehr wrote:

"Is Gregor losing or gaining his sense of reality?...When the story starts, his physical self is a bug (vermin), but, he perceives himself as a man. As the story is developing, he is perceiving himself less as a man and more as a bug/vermin...is he going away from, or going toward reality?"

Very interesting observation, rbehr. It's like removing a warm sock from the dryer and reaching your hand inside to turn it right side out...then you look closer and see that you have just turned it wrong side out...what determines the "right" and "wrong" sides of the sock?

Your pinpointing the changing perception of Gregor is also thought-provoking...
As a physical human being, he was behaving in a very bug-like manner as he goes about the repetitious pattern of his work-a-day life. Once he morphs into the physical "bug" he seems to have more time to reflect on life and becomes more "human".
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