Minggu, 15 Februari 2015

The Metamorphosis

Title: The Metamorphosis
Original Title: Die Verwandlung
Author: Franz Kafka
English Translator: David Wyllie
Publisher: Project Gutenberg #5200 (2002)
First Published: 1915
Cover Ilustrasion from First Edition published by Kurt Wolff Verlag, Leipzig (1915)

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was laying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes."

With this startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first opening, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis.

It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing -- though absurdly comic -- meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction.

As W.H. Auden wrote, "Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man."

It's a little story with giant after thought about a man transform into some kind insect and how he lived his life after that transformation. Nooo... it's not a cheap scince fiction movie. It's actually a family romance... yeah right!

In this story, that man was Gregor Samsa. He was his family backboned. He worked extra hours the work he actually hated, to employers that took him for granted, no time for friends, no time for love, just so he can brought food home and hopefully send his little sister to music conservatory. He wished to quit his job and did something he really loves, but he couldn't. He wouldn't. Because he loved his parents and sister.

But one day, waking up from sleep, he was changed. Physically changed. And just by that, it changed how all the world saw him. He became predicament. A shame. A burden.

His father hated his guts and couldn't even had his presence. His mother cried him a river, always wished him to un-changed so things could be back the way they were. And his sister, I thought at first, his sister was the one that could accepted him unconditionally, loved him and took care for him for whatever he might be. But I was wrong. It was his sister that so profoundly mortificated beyond measures.

One day, about a month after Gregor's transformation when his sister no longer had any particular reason to be shocked at his appearance, she came into the room a little earlier than usual and found him still staring out the window, motionless, and just where he would be most horrible. In itself, his sister's not coming into the room would have been no surprise for Gregor as it would have been difficult for her to immediately open the window while he was still there, but not only did she not come in, she went straight back and closed the door behind her, a stranger would have thought he had threatened her and tried to bite her. Gregor went straight to hide himself under the couch, of course, but he had to wait until midday before his sister came back and she seemed much more uneasy than usual. It made him realise that she still found his appearance unbearable and would continue to do so, she probably even had to overcome the urge to flee when she saw the little bit of him that protruded from under the couch.

It's so funny, well, ironically funny, that how easy people forgot how much good someone has done to thems when he couldn't did it anymore. Just take the honey and spit the dregs.

And so they did. Gregor was gradually disconnected with his human life, his family. He still could hear them but could not communicate with them. He still loved them, still missed his sister playing her musical instruments, their conversations, but no one care for them. One day, after incidently frightened the tenants in their house, his sister wished him die.

"You've got to get rid of the idea that that's Gregor. We've only harmed ourselves by believing it for so long. How can that be Gregor? If it were Gregor he would have seen long ago that it's not possible for human beings to live with an animal like that and he would have gone of his own free will. We wouldn't have a brother any more, then, but we could carry on with our lives and remember him with respect."

The ending was so 'happy ending' for the family, not for Gregor though. Why wouldn't it be. Stripped from luxury of Gregor provided them, the family grew up and force to took care themselves -which was actually good for them. And lives goes on. Now that Gregor was out of the way, they could finally be happy. Bah!

After that, the three of them left the flat together, which was something they had not done for months, and took the tram out to the open country outside the town. They had the tram, filled with warm sunshine, all to themselves. Leant back comfortably on their seats, they discussed their prospects and found that on closer examination they were not at all bad - until then they had never asked each other about their work but all three had jobs which were very good and held particularly good promise for the future.

Reading this novella was rather shocked me a lot. I mean, sure Kafka was on the extreme side by making Gregor altered into somekind of vermin, but how about changes that happened inside and around us every day, every time. What if our family, friends, colleages, spouse couldn't accept that? Would they be ashamed of us? Would we be allianeted, tortured, loosed ourselves and finally died in the end, which only gave all others some relieve?

Oh dear God, I surely hope not.

* * *

Novela ini ternyata sudah beberapa kali diterjemahkan dalam bahasa Indonesia, sayangnya aku belum pernah menemukannya. Tapi dari melihat-lihat di data GoodReads, yang terbaru adalah edisi Metamorfosis terbitan Homerian Pustaka (ISBN 978-979-17-4543-7) tahun 2008. 

Ilustrasi sampulnya adalah salah satu favoritku dari berbagai edisi yang ada. Jadi pengin punya buat ((koleksi)). :)


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