Written & Spoken Word

The Metamorphosis - Section 2

Franz Kafka

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Author: Franz Kafka, translated by Ian Johnston

Read by: DavidBarnes, 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      “Gregor first woke up from his heavy swoon-like sleep in the evening twilight.”

8:53      “[His sister] brought him, to test his taste, an entire selection – all spread out on an old newspaper.”

13:11    “Since they could not understand him, no one, not even his sister, thought he might be able to understand others…”

17:22    “…his imprisonment.”

18:31    “…Gregor [had] earned so much money that he was able to bear the expense of the entire family.”

26:32    “…about one month had already gone by since Gregor’s transformation, and there was now no particular reason anymore for his sister to be startled at Gregor’s appearance.”

34:23    “The sight of the empty walls pierced [Gregor’s mother] right to the heart, and why should Gregor not feel the same…”

41:23    “And so he scuttled out.”

49:50    “But [Gregor’s father] raised his foot uncommonly high anyway, and Gregor was astonished at the gigantic size of the sole of his boot.”

51:58    “…for his father had decided to bombard him…he was throwing apple after apple.”


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.”