Short Stories You Must Read: 5. ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafta (1915)

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What to expect: A comic and harrowing tale of a young, travelling salesman who wakes up one morning to find himself turned into a beetle-like insect.

Best known for: Transmogrifying the main character, Gregor Samsa, into a bug as a metaphor for human troubles such as alienation, sympathy (and its limits), and the absurdity of life.

Interesting Fact: Aside from countless media adaptations, The Metamorphosis is perhaps one of the most famous examples of humans turning into animals in short stories. Modern examples being Sarah Hall’s Mrs Fox, which won the BBC short story award, and Nina Killham’s My Wife the Hyena.

Best Quote: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

Final Words: The Metamorphosis is a seminal 20th century short story written by one of the masters of the form. It’s longer than most short stories (hovering at novella length), but well worth the investment.

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