Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Source: The Spoken Alexandria Project
Length: 2 hr, 15 min
Reader: Alex Wilson

The book:At first read, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a bizarre, almost nonsensical story. Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant bug of some sort. No explanation is given for how or why this metamorphosis occurred. Gregor himself seems more concerned with being late to a work assignment than the circumstances of his change.

As the novella progresses, The Metamorphosis becomes more about the unspoken negotiations inside a family as in who does what chores, who makes money for others, and who just gets in the way. When Gregor can no longer provide for the family’s needs, Gregor’s father changes from an invalid to a dedicated worker. Along the way, Greta converts from a loving sister to a young woman looking for suitors. The bizarre transformation of Gregor is not the most important transformation in the family, as evidenced by the final lines.

Rating: 8/10

The reader: Alex Wilson, the founder of Spoken Alexandria, provides a understated, but compelling reading. The tone of voice is like someone waked in the middle of dream, lending an appropriate otherworldliness to the story of alienation. The sound quality is top-notch, even when listening over headphones. If you prefer a British accent over an American one, David Barnes does an equally high-quality reading of this novella at Librivox. I featured one of Mr. Barnes' readings last week, however, so I decided to go with Mr. Wilson's version.

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