Franz Kafka

Which 1915 book has a main character named Gregor Samsa?

And the answer: The Metamorphosis.  

Photo credit: Portsmouth Point. 

Written in 1912 by Austrian author Franz Kafka, but published three years later, The Metamorphosis tells the story of salesman Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a huge insect. Gregor and his family struggle to adjust to his new condition.

Franz Kafka was a plagued, talented writer, whose recognition did not occur until after his death. The German author grew up in an unsteady household, with a father who dominated his life with abuse. While he had always been a talented writer, the profession was out of the question to his father. As such, Kafka spent much time in jobs without meaning to him. While working as a lawyer, and later in an insurance firm, Kafka wrote only three collections of short stories, and three novels. All of his novels ended unfinished due to Kafka's dissatisfaction with them.

One of the major keys to understanding Kafka is to fathom the nature of his relationship with his father. While Kafka never wrote directly about his father in his works, the psychology of his novels and arbitrary punitive notions that set the tone as so bitterly hopeless are largely drawn from the abuse young Kafka suffered. At one point in his life, Kafka wrote a 47-page letter to his father, trying to explain the harm he had inflicted and consequently internalized. However, his mother returned the letter to Kafka, never to be seen by his father.

Kafka is a monument in German literary history, and a harsh reminder of the ills of the world. Kafka is one of the few writers truly able to tap into the uniquely human experience of reconnecting with one's emotions. He once wrote:

"A book must be an axe for the frozen sea within us."

Learn more about this legendary writer below.

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