The Metamorphosis and Other Stories
  • Publication Date: December 1, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781554812240 / 1554812240
  • 168 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Metamorphosis and Other Stories

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781554812240 / 1554812240
  • 168 pages; 5½" x 8½"

A man awakens to find himself transformed into a giant vermin; a performer starves himself to death as a circus attraction; a fiendish engine of capital punishment engraves the letter of the law into the body of the condemned. Such are the nightmare scenarios that emerge in the short stories of Franz Kafka, one of the twentieth century’s most formative, mystifying literary figures. Though immediate in their impact, Kafka’s stories invite endless angles of interpretation, from Freudian psychology and existentialist philosophy to animal studies.

This volume presents “The Metamorphosis”—together with several other of Kafka’s best and best-known stories—in a nuanced, clear, and powerful translation by Ian Johnston. The appendices provide philosophical, literary, and cultural context, as well as valuable selections from Kafka’s own letters and drawings.

Comments

“Simply remarkable! The translator … has done a superb job of making the uncannily ‘untranslatable’ Kafka accessible (especially in ‘The Metamorphosis’) in a manner that is fresh, vivid, and faithful as possible to the author’s original style.” — Gregory Maertz, St. John’s University

“In a fine balancing act, Ian Johnston’s translation blows the dust off of some of Kafka’s major short stories: its formality is never stiff and its colloquialisms never wooden. Johnston transports into modern English the unnatural syntactic and lexical clarity through which Kafka expresses such unnerving ambiguity. A compact yet wide-ranging introduction by Paul Johnson Byrne and the addition of excerpts from Kafka’s literary influences, as well as from his letters, make clear that Kafka was not some brilliant, inexplicable aberration, but rather a product of his background, experience, and reading: a ‘normal,’ yet still exceptional, author. This is a fine brief introduction to Kafka and his work.” — Paul Malone, University of Waterloo

“Equally attractive [as Ian Johnston’s translation] is the historical-philosophical background material on Kafka ‘In Context,’ which includes not only Sacher-Masoch, Nietzsche, Freud, and Mirbeau, but also lesser-known texts and cartoons from popular culture on the Hagenbeck Zoo and hunger artists. These texts are carefully selected to enhance our understanding of Kafka’s writings, and they make this innovative edition a valuable tool for teaching.” — Iris Bruce, McMaster University

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Before the Law
The Metamorphosis
A Report for an Academy
An Imperial Message
In the Penal Colony
A Hunger Artist

In Context

  1. Kafka’s Life and Writing
    1. Selections from Kafka’s Letters
    2. from Franz Kafka, Letter to His Father (written 1919)
    3. Photographs of Kafka and His Family
  2. Philosophical and Literary Contexts
    1. from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs (1870)
    2. from Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemical Tract (1887)
    3. from Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None(1883–92)
    4. from Sigmund Freud, On the Interpretation of Dreams (1899)
    5. from Octave Mirbeau, The Torture Garden (1899)
  3. Hagenbeck and the Modern Zoo
    1. from Carl Hagenbeck, Beasts and Men (1908)
  4. Hunger Artists
    1. from “Professional Fasting,” Daily News (3 April 1890)
    2. from “Succi Breaks His Fast,” The New York Times (21 December 1890)
    3. from “Succi, the Fasting Man,” The Lancet (28 April 1888)

Permissions Acknowledgment

Ian Johnston is a research associate at Vancouver Island University.

For a sample of our edition of The Metamorphosis, including the introduction and an excerpt of translated text, click here. (Opens as a PDF.)

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