July 9, 2013

The Metamorphosis and A Country Doctor by Franz Kafka

The fifth week of The Fiction of Relationship course was really tough: Kafka is no easy writer to interpret. So this time I waited until I watch the lectures to write my short reviews.

Title: The Metamorphosis
Author: Franz Kafka
First published: 1912
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository

I've read The Metamorphosis before, or rather listened to it, and, strangely enough, in Spanish. I didn't really give it a thought, I just decided it was creepy (no pun intended :)) and Kafka was a crazy guy. This second reading was much more profound, and the story shocked me with how thought-provoking it is. Really, what is to be done if you are turned into a bug? How is family to react to this? Maybe he was a bug all along, considering the life he lead? And the story is not only about the problem of a terminal illness of a family member, but also about general loneliness, inability to communicate and selfishness of people. Professor Weinstein also suggests father-son problems here, and if you know Kafka's relationship with his own father, it is really a very plausible reading too. This is a story everyone should read, if only to challenge yourself to find all the meanings it has, the task a lot of scientists have only tackled for a century.

Title: A Country Doctor
Author: Franz Kafka
First published: 1918
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository

It is even more difficult to make sense of A Country Doctor than of The Metamorphosis. The plot follows the logic of a dream and needs a Freudian interpretation, which allows to connect different parts of a dream to reinforce one meaning. Moreover, it investigates the relationship between a doctor and his patients: a patient sees a doctor as a priestly figure and expects miracles from him, but a doctor is sometimes unable to do anything or even understand the cause of an ailment even if he puts himself in the patient's place.

Now I'm opening Nabokov's lectures to read his interpretation of Kafka's The Metamorphosis. Really, I have never needed so much critical writings/lectures to get to the core of a book. And I rather like it! :)


  1. The Metamorphosis puzzled me so I cannot say whether I liked it or not, it made me feel uncomfortable.
    A Country Doctor looks interesting, a few years ago I read Bulgakov's Diary of a young Doctor and I loved it!

  2. If I hadn't just started reading Infinite Jest I'm sure I'd be jumping at the chance to read The Country Doctor. Especially after reading your review of it.

    1. It's just 10 pages long, so you can squeeze it in any reading break. The problem is that I had to reread it three times :)


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