The metamorphosis

Peter Kuper, 1958-

Book - 2003

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Graphic novels
New York, N.Y. : Crown c2003.
1st ed
Physical Description
77 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Main Author
Peter Kuper, 1958- (-)
Other Authors
Franz Kafka, 1883-1924 (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Kuper follows his adaptations of shorter Kafka stories (Give It Up!, 1995) with one of the author's most renowned works, the tale of Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. Gregor's plight, his growing alienation from his horrified family, and his gradual acceptance of the metamorphosis have come to be viewed as the quintessential symbolic depiction of modern existence. Against all expectations, Kuper's cartoonish style doesn't throw off the story's balance by accentuating Kafka's black humor. Rather, Kuper's visual depiction of Gregor's agony and the family's cruelty toward him points up what is disturbing in the tale, and the portrayal of Gregor's physical deterioration is truly harrowing. Moreover, Kuper's signature scratchboard technique, which resembles traditional woodcut style, suits the story's period, while his lively, expressive drawing lends contemporary vitality. Remaining faithful to its literary origin, Kuper thoroughly inhabits the tale, making his realization a genuine work of posthumous collaboration. The result is a Classics Illustrated with class. ((Reviewed July 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Kuper has adapted short works by Kafka into comics before, but here he tackles the most famous one of all: the jet-black comedy that ensues after the luckless Gregor Samsa turns into a gigantic bug. The story loses a bit in translation (and the typeset text looks awkward in the context of Kuper's distinctly handmade drawings). A lot of the humor in the original comes from the way Kafka plays the story's absurdities absolutely deadpan, and the visuals oversell the joke, especially since Kuper draws all the human characters as broad caricatures. Even so, he works up a suitably creepy frisson, mostly thanks to his drawing style. Executed on scratchboard, it's a jittery, woodcut-inspired mass of sharp angles that owes a debt to both Frans Masereel (a Belgian woodcut artist who worked around Kafka's time) and MAD magazine's Will Elder. The knotty walls and floors of the Samsas' house look like they're about to dissolve into dust. In the book's best moments, Kuper lets his unerring design sense and command of visual shorthand carry the story. The jagged forms on the huge insect's belly are mirrored by folds in business clothes; thinking about the debt his parents owe his employer, Gregor imagines his insectoid body turning into money slipping through an hourglass. Every thing and person in this Metamorphosis seems silhouetted and carved, an effect that meshes neatly with Kafka's sense of nightmarish unreality. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Adult/High School-Gregor Samsa wakes up and discovers he has been changed into a giant cockroach. Thus begins "The Metamorphosis," and Kuper translates this story masterfully with his scratchboard illustrations. The text is more spare, but the visuals are so strongly rendered that little of the original is changed or omitted. Though the story remains set in Kafka's time, Kuper has added some present-day touches, such as fast-food restaurants, that do not detract from the tale. He has used the medium creatively, employing unusual perspectives and panel shapes, and text that even crawls on the walls and ceilings, as Gregor does. The roach has an insect body but human facial expressions. Once he is pelted with the apple, readers can watch his rapid decline, as his body becomes more wizened and his face more gaunt. This is a faithful rendition rather than an illustrated abridgment.-Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A seemingly ordinary man, Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning only to discover that he has been transformed into a gigantic insect and must deal with the depression over his new physical alteration, as well as the rejection of his family, in a new graphic novel rendition of the literary classic. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In graphic novel format, reworks Kafka's tale of family and alienation featuring traveling saleman Gregor Samsa, who awakens in his family home one morning to find himself turned into a giant bug.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman by trade, awakens one morning to find his body has mutated into that of a repulsive bug. Outwardly a monstrous insect, only his thought processes remain human. Whilst his family grow accustomed to supporting themselves without his once essential income, Gregor's suffering becomes ever more pronounced as he witnesses the corruption of their former dependence on him. This volume also includes a number of other short stories by Kafka, all newly translated.