Biographical info• Born in 1883 in Prague to a middle class, German speaking Jewish family• Trained as a lawyer and then worked for an insurance company• Difficult relationship with his father• Difficult relationships with women – whilst he had lots of affairs, he was engaged twice to Felice Bauer whom he saw rarely and with whom he communicated by letter• Apparently became engaged a third time to an uneducated chambermaid, but never married. Then had an intense relationship with a Czech journalist• Wrote initially in his spare time – Metamorphosis published in 1915• Diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1917 – died in 1924• Possibly depressive
Biographical information• Kafka disliked the routine of his work• Kafka = Samsa – Kafka denied the link but the two names are similar• Felt himself to be a disappointment to his father as well as unattractive to others - outsider• In a letter he says his father could describe himself as a parasite• Parents did not support his writing – he felt he had disappointed them. He was supported for a time by his youngest and favourite sister Ottla but she too sided with his parents in 1912.
Genesis of metamorphosis• 1907 – in a short story the hero Raban wishes to avoid a meeting with his fiancé by dividing himself into two. His clothed body will go to meet her but his true self will remain in bed tucked up and he imagines himself transformed into a giant insect.• Transformation throughout literature – but no explanation for it in Kafka’s work and no redemption.
Why an insect?• Original German word is “Ungeziefer” – has been translated as beetle, bug, insect but this is not exact. Idea is closer to vermin, more exactly an unclear animal not fit for sacrifice.• Description makes it clear it is some sort of insect but cannot exactly identify what sort.• Why is this important?
•What does it feel like to feel like an insect?
Consequences for Gregor• Alienation/isolation• Inability to communicate• Inability to integrate into society• Is treated as vermin by his family – but different reactions from different members which change throughout the story• Still human on the inside – at least to start with. Questions of identity.
Questions about staging the play• How do we show that Gregor is a beetle on the outside but a person on the inside? How will they show the change in Gregor?• Is Gregor going to speak? He doesn’t in the story but we have an omniscient narrator who gives us access to his thoughts and feelings.• Also relatively little dialogue overall between the other characters.• Physical space – action is all in two rooms, Gregor’s room and living-room – how will they organise the set