Metamorphosis is a book by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It has been cited as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century and is studied in colleges and universities across the Western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed (metamorphosed) into a large, monstrous insect-like creature. The cause of Samsa's transformation is never revealed, and Kafka himself never gave an explanation. The rest of Kafka's novella deals with Gregor's attempts to adjust to his new condition as he deals with being burdensome to his parents and sister, who are repulsed by the horrible, verminous creature Gregor has become. Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In his lifetime, most of the population of Prague spoke Czech, and the division between Czech- and German-speaking people was a tangible reality, as both groups were strengthening their national identity. The Jewish community often found itself in between the two sentiments, naturally raising questions about a place to which one belongs. Kafka himself was fluent in both languages, considering German his mother tongue.
Franz Kafka was born in 3 July 1883 in Prague in what is now the Czech Republic. He spent most of his working life working as an insurance claims adjuster. While not working, he spent most of his time writing. Essentially, writing was a hobby although eighteen of his short stories including this one were published by literary journals while he was alive. He died of tuberculosis on 3 June 1924 at age 40. He was virtually unknown during his own lifetime. He left his works at his death to Max Brod, with instructions to burn his life's work. However, Brod started publishing them instead and Kafka soon became famous as a writer, Although Kafka never married and had no children, he had relations with several women and lived with some of them. Some aspects of this story seem autobiographical, as Gregor's relations with his younger sister and his parents seem similar to Kafka's own relations with his parents and his younger sisters. Most studies of this work focus on the psychological aspects. Kafka's most famous work, in addition to The Metamorphoses, is The Trial. It tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote tribunal, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader. When this sort of trial happens in modern life, we call it Kafkaesque. Kafka was Jewish and had three younger sisters all of whom died during the Holocaust. After the end of the war, Kafka had became famous and court battles developed over who had the rights to his manuscripts. His surviving relatives immigrated to Israel where the courts took jurisdiction over them and predictably ruled that they belonged to the State of Israel. Even today, many if not most of Kafka's works remain unpublished. Some have disappeared. They are probably in the hands of private collectors. Some have been sold at public auctions showing that they are still worth millions.