“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka INTRODUCTION
Franz Kafka’s Life � 1883 -1924 (influential Czech writer of 20 th century). �Born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire)
Kafka’s Employment �Trained as a lawyer; obtained employment with an insurance company. �Began to write short stories in his spare time. Regretted having to devote so much attention to his Brotberuf ("day job", literally "bread job").
Father-Son Relationship �He had a complicated and troubled relationship with his father that had a major impact on his writing. �Father = "huge, selfish, overbearing businessman” Both parents were absent from the home & worked as many as 12 hours each day to manage the family business.
Racy Details… �Kafka's life was full of "incessant womanizing. ” He visited brothels & had several relationships with women throughout his life but never married. Political views: socialist �an economic & political philosophy characterized by co-operative management & social ownership of the economy
Kafka’s Death Died: 1924 � Laryngeal tuberculosis worsened. � Returned from Berlin to Prague, where members of his family, Esp. his sister Ottla, took care of him. � Cause of death seemed to be starvation: the condition of Kafka's throat made eating too painful for him.
Legacy �Kafka's writing inspired the term "Kafkaesque” �Ex: instances in which people are overpowered by bureaucracies, often in a surreal, nightmarish milieu which evokes feelings of senselessness, disorientation, and helplessness. �Characters = lack a clear course of action to escape the situation. �Real-life occurrences and situations = incomprehensibly complex, bizarre, or illogical.
The World during the 1900’s? �What was happening in the world during Kafka’s life (1883 -1924)?
The World during the early 1900’s? � 2 nd Industrial Revolution- 1840’s-1870’s �Freud Publishes His Theory of Sexuality-1905 �Chinese revolution -1910 �Armenian Genocide -1915 �Easter Rising in Ireland-1916 �WWI- 1914 -1918 �Germans use poison gas as a weapon �Bolshevik terror in Russia -1917 �Hitler’s Mein Kampf is Published- 1925 �Stock Market Crashes & Great Depression Begins-1929
Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud…. Oh My! � Darwin (1809 -1882) – theory of evolution � Nietzsche (1844 -1900)- “death of God, ” called himself an “immoralist, ” nihilism • Freud (1856 -1939)psychoanalysis
The “Old World” Collapse �The world = violent, uncertain, irrational, inhuman. �Crisis of thought- old way of thinking dies; new philosophies emerge �Crisis of faith- questioning institutions �Crisis of identity- entire generations dead
The Grotesque �Motivated by negative occurrences of the time. �Grotesque presents the strange, fantastic, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting (rather than the beautiful or accepted). �Refers to something that simultaneously invokes in an audience a feeling of uncomfortable bizarreness as well as pity. �Grotesque character isn’t a villain, but a victim of social castigation. We feel pity for the victim. �Grotesque is often fascinated with the ambiguity between reality and non-reality.
Dark Humor= it’s funny because it’s absurd �Dark Humor: describes the form of comedy that comes from the pathetic absurdity of human suffering & existence (NOTE- some of this humor has been lost in translation) a sub-genre of comedy & satire which laughter arises from cynicism & skepticism, often relying on topics such as death
In media res �In medias res: Latin for in the middle of things Story begins with a climatic event
Anti-hero vs Antagonists �Anti-hero: Gregor Non-action, passivity, cowardly, self-effacing Reader response = 1 st sympathy & pity, but then disgust. Allows us to see & avoid failures in our own lives. �Antagonists: Father Grete
Conflict �Conflict Man vs society Man vs man Man vs self Man vs nature