Introduction

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Last Updated on September 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 452

So you’re going to teach The Metamorphosis. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations for its unusual premise and existential angst. While it has its challenges, teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into absurdist literature, familial alienation, and Kafka’s far-reaching legacy. This guide highlights the text's most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Published: 1915
  • Approximate Word Count: 22,100
  • Author: Franz Kafka
  • Country of Origin: Czech Republic, written in German
  • Genre: Absurdist Fiction
  • Literary Period: Modernism
  • Conflict: Person vs. Person, Person vs. Society
  • Narration: Third-Person
  • Setting: Unknown City, Country, and Year
  • Structure: Prose Novella
  • Tone: Existential, Futile, Surreal


Texts That Go Well With The Metamorphosis

Abahn Sabana David is an abstract, philosophical novel by Marguerite Duras. Characters ponder the utility of suffering against the backdrop of a beautiful country home, violence looming on the horizon. Translated from French, this absurd character drama emphasizes subtext over bluntness, and it is open to many interpretations. 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a novel and series by Douglas Adams. More lighthearted than Kafka but no less thought-provoking, Adams’s first entry in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series opens with its own absurd premise: Earth is about to be demolished in order to build an intergalactic bypass, and Arthur Dent is the only human being who escapes in time. Wry British humor and abundant social commentary take after Kafka’s legacy. 

Kafka on the Shore is a novel by Haruki Murakami. Translated from Japanese, it follows a young boy who embarks on a quest to find his missing family. The main character renames himself after Franz Kafka shortly after running away. Themes of identity, absurd situations, and metaphysical questioning take after Kafka’s works. 

The Trial is another novel by Franz Kafka. Despite being unfinished, it is one of Kafka’s best-known works. It follows the story of a man accused of an unknown crime as he attempts to resist a dictatorial organization intent on proving his guilt, and deals with themes such as isolation and bureaucratic absurdity. Along with The Metamorphosis, it is a further example of what became known as a “kafkaesque” story. 

Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett. Existential and often darkly funny, this play follows two men as they converse while waiting around for a third man, Godot, to appear. Similar to Kafka’s works, Beckett’s play concerns the pointlessness and unavoidable absurdity of life.

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