‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka

I know, I know. I did try and choose a less famous Kafka story. I thought long and hard about including The Giant Mole, with its magnificent first line: “Those, and I am one of them, who find even an ordinary sized mole disgusting, would probably have died of disgust if they had seen the great mole that a few years back was observed in the neighbourhood of one of our villages, which achieved a certain transitory celebrity on account of the incident.” But in the end I realised that a large part of what I loved about the mole was that it reminded me of Gregor Samsa, the giant insect or beetle or cockroach (depending on translation), his legs spinning in his single bed.

First published in German, as ‘Die Verwandlung’, in Die Weißen Blätter, 1915. Widely translated

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