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Franz Kafka’s literary acclaim would largely come after his death from tuberculosis in 1924. Cited as one of the most important authors of the 20th century his works feature the recurrent themes of alienation, anxiety, and guilt. Critics differ on how to interpret Kafka; is the hopelessness of his protagonist’s situations a commentary on the existential absurdity of the human condition or is he trying to evoke a mood of surrealistic humor? Such questions speak to the complexity and depth of his compositions. No work more exemplifies his unique genius than “The Metamorphosis”, the strange story of a man, Gregor Samsa, who awakes one morning to mysteriously find himself transformed into some kind of bug-like vermin. Through this impossible transformation, for which there exists no fateful explanation, Kafka seems to rebuke the notion that “things happen for a reason”. Rather than being punished for some moral failing, Gregor is stricken with his condition by chance. What follows is a decent into an ever more isolating alienation from his family who have come to depend on him and the income his job provides. “The Metamorphosis” is collected with nine other short stories in this representative volume of Kafka’s work. This edition follows the translations of Ian Johnston.

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