The Metamor phosis
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This text is a translation from the German
by Ian Johnston, Malaspina UniversityCollege Nanaimo, BC. It has been prepared for students in the Liberal Studies
and English departments. This document is
in the public domain, released, January
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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. He lay on his
armour-hard back and saw, as he lifted his head up a little, his brown, arched abdomen divided up into rigid bowlike sections. From this height the blanket, just about ready to slide off completely, could hardly stay in place.
His numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest
of his circumference, flickered helplessly before his eyes.
‘What’s happened to me,’ he thought. It was no dream.
His room, a proper room for a human being, only
somewhat too small, lay quietly between the four wellknown walls. Above the table, on which an unpacked collection of sample cloth goods was spread out (Samsa
was a traveling salesman) hung the picture which he had
cut out of an illustrated magazine a little while ago and set in a pretty gilt frame. It was a picture of a woman with a
fur hat and a fur boa. She sat erect there, lifting up in the direction of the viewer a solid fur muff into which her
entire forearm disappeared.
Gregor’s glance then turned to the window. The dreary
weather (the rain drops were falling audibly down on the
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metal window ledge) made him quite melancholy. ‘Why
don’t I keep sleeping for a little while longer and forget all this foolishness,’ he thought. But this was entirely
impractical, for he was used to sleeping on his right side,
and in his present state he couldn’t get himself into this position. No matter how hard he threw himself onto his
right side, he always rolled again onto his back. He must
have tried it a hundred times, closing his eyes, so that he
would not have to see the wriggling legs, and gave up
only when he began to feel a light, dull pain in his side
which he had never felt before.
‘O God,’ he thought, ‘what a demanding job I’ve
chosen! Day in, day out on the road. The stresses of trade
are much greater than the work going on at head office,
and, in addition to that, I have to deal with the problems
of traveling, the worries about train connections, irregular bad food, temporary and constantly changing human
relationships which never come from the heart. To hell
with it all!’ He felt a slight itching on the top of his
abdomen. He slowly pushed himself on his back closer to
the bed post so that he could lift his head more easily,
found the itchy part, which was entirely covered with
small white spots (he did not know what to make of
them), and wanted to feel the place with a leg. But he
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retracted it immediately, for the contact felt like a cold
shower all over him.
He slid back again into his earlier position. ‘This
getting up early,’ he thought, ‘makes a man quite idiotic. A man must have his sleep. Other traveling salesmen live
like harem women. For instance, when I come back to the
inn during the course of the morning to write up the
necessary orders, these gentlemen are just sitting down to
breakfast. If I were to try that with my boss, I’d be thrown out on the spot. Still, who knows whether that mightn’t
be really good for me. If I didn’t hold back for my parents’ sake, I would’ve quit ages ago. I would’ve gone to the
boss and told him just what I think from the bottom of my
heart. He would’ve fallen right off his desk! How weird it is to sit up at the desk and talk...
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