Written & Spoken Word

The Metamorphosis - Section One

Franz Kafka

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Author: Franz Kafka, translated by Ian Johnston

Section One

Read by: David Barnes, London, November 2006

Source:  Librivox1 recording of a public-domain text

“The Metamorphosis,” one of the most famous of all short stories or novellas, was written in 1912 by a 29-year old resident of Prague named Franz Kafka. Kafka, born in 1883, had just partnered with one of his brothers-in-law in running an asbestos plant. He wrote “The Metamorphosis” while struggling with work/art balance and with his dominating father (Hermann Kafka, who had worked at one time as a traveling salesman).  Franz Kafka was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1917, and he died seven years later at the age of 40.

Thanks to Project Gutenberg, which digitally publishes public-domain texts; LibriVox,which records narrators reading the texts; and InternetArchive, which hosts the audio files, we can listen to this marvelous story.

Important timestamps are as follows:

0:01      “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.”

7:56      Gregor’s mother knocks on his bedroom door.

17:40    “Then there was a ring at the door to the apartment…”

24:40    “’Mister Samsa,’ the manager was now shouting…”

26:37    “’But Mister Manager,’ called Gregor…”

30:10    “’That was an animal’s voice,’ said the manager…”

35:05    “His mother…went two steps toward Gregor and collapsed right in the middle of her skirts…”

44:06    “The manager momentarily had disappeared completely from his mind.”

49:28    “…and he scurried, bleeding severely, far into the interior of his room.”


1            The mission of LibriVox, a nonprofit founded in 2005 by Hugh McGuire, is “to make all books in the public domain available, narrated by real people and distributed free in audio format on the internet.”