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The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and…

The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories: The Great Short…

by Franz Kafka

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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A collection of Kafka's shorter fiction published in his lifetime with some travel writing as an appendix.

This is the first Kafka I've read. I can see why 'The Metamorphosis' is well known but I found the rest of the collection to be pretty much hit or miss, with some weird tales and others that just left going "so?". 'The Hunger Artist' was interesting, but actually my favourite was 'The Aeroplanes at Brescia', a piece of travel writing about a trip Kafka made in 1909 by train and car to see the air show at Brescia in 1909 - the whole idea of doing such a thing in 1909 seems so unexpected. ( )
  Robertgreaves | May 31, 2018 |
I'm giving this book a certain score, but realize first and foremost that it is wildly inconsistent. There can be no doubt that "The Metamorphosis" and "In The Penal Colony" are masterpieces of short literature that rank with the highest of perhaps anything that's been written in the form. The works that come close to those are "The Judgment" and "A Hunger Artist" which perhaps most merit the score I give. They're very good achievements, but they don't have a good connection to the hand that wrote "The Trial", which is Kafka's unfinished masterpiece.

The rest of this collection is somewhat similar to Typee from Herman Melville. The elements of good writing are present but they haven't formed into that je ne sais quois that forms literature. These works can't even be called Kafka-esque in the same way Typee can't be considered Melvillean. Everyone will remember Melville for Moby Dick, a work that almost achieves the status of The Great American Novel, and similarly Kafka will be remembered for "The Trial" and the short stories for which this collection is partially named, but both authors must've not been able to feel their way out naturally since they both produce art that is wildly non-indicative.

It's not so much that these other stories are bad, but in a collection like this they are indeed "other." It's too bad that Kafka was not as prolific as Melville, since Melville managed to pump out a good bevy of excellent short stories between Moby Dick and his final hurrah of "Billy Budd, Sailor." This final stage of Melville's life carries almost as much of his legacy as Moby Dick itself. Kafka, on the other hand couldn't seem to decide what he wanted to produce in finality. Or else he could, but he still dotted it with less important work along the way.

I would suppose it were a blessing that Kafka couldn't decide on his ultimate vision the way Edgar Allan Poe or H.P. Lovecraft could. After all, his vision was a lot more complicated. It encased the full experience of the 20th century man, parts of which were left out for Poe or Lovecraft- Poe being nevertheless a literary auteur of the strange, frightening, and imaginative. Kafka, in his few masterworks, reached into the soul of man and reflected it back to us in all of its stunning sadism and otherwise. His beautiful portraits of transformation and auto-mechanism should be familiar to all. We can learn the ways we shouldn't treat each other in Kafka. ( )
  Salmondaze | Jul 24, 2015 |
I was not looking forward to reading this book, as I had previously read Metamorphosis and The Trial. I was pleasantly surprised by Country Doctor and especially Penal Colony. Very strong characters and symbolism in PC. You have to do your research on these stories or you miss quite a bit of symbolism. ( )
  delta351 | Jan 18, 2014 |
Striving to understand the frequent usage of 'Kafkaesque' to describe a proliferation of things literary, I found a nice bargain copy of this translation of Kafka many moons past. I'm unsure if I accomplished my goal, being left wondering if I need to read 'The Trial' to solidify that understanding, yet having no desire to engage anymore with his works. This collection of stories left me repulsed ('The Metamorphosis'), disgusted ('In the Penal Colony'), irritated ('The Stoker'), or bored (all inclusive). I used the experience as a stylistic exercise, but even that failed to render the stories any more approachable for me. Taking a month to finally finish, the slow progress was a source of frustration, and the more frustrating thought is that Kafka would have probably found that entirely too funny. ( )
1 vote Aeyan | Mar 5, 2009 |
I'm glad I read Kafka's story "The Metamorphosis," about Gregor Samsa, because now I understand the joke in "The Producers" that references it so much better. Don't you just like pop cultural references in film and TV? Of course you do - look at how successful the Simpsons et al are. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Jan 3, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franz Kafkaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Neugroschel, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
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Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."
Last words
Disambiguation notice
44 stories: Conversation with the worshiper --
Conversation with the drunk --
Great noise --
Children on the highway --
Exposing a city slicker --
The sudden stroll --
Decisions --
The outing in the mountains --
The bachelor's unhappiness --
The businessman --
Absently gazing out --
The way home --
The people running by --
The passenger --
Frocks --
The rejection --
Reflections for amateur jockeys --
The window facing the street --
The wish to be an Indian --
The trees --
Unhappiness --
The judgment --
The stoker --
The metamorphosis --
In the Penal Colony --The new lawyer --
A country doctor --
Up in the gallery --
An ancient manuscript --
Before the law --
Jackals and Arabs--
A visit to the mine --
The next village --
An imperial message --
The anxiety of the head of family --
Eleven sons --
A fratricide --
A dream --
A report for an academy --
First sorrow --
The hunger artist.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684800705, Paperback)

Translated by PEN translation award-winner Joachim Neugroschel, The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories has garnered critical acclaim and is widely recognized as the preeminent English-language anthology of Kafka's stories. These translations illuminate one of this century's most controversial writers and have made Kafka's work accessible to a whole new generation. This classic collection of forty-one great short works -- including such timeless pieces of modern fiction as "The Judgment" and "The Stoker" -- now includes two new stories, "First Sorrow" and "The Hunger Artist."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:27 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A compilation of stories by Franz Kafka, including "The Judgment," "The Metamorphosis," "In the Penal Colony," "A Country Doctor," and "A Hunger Artist."

Legacy Library: Franz Kafka

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