The DePaul Humanities Center presents the second event in its 2016-2017 “Transformations” series on Thursday February 16, when it welcomes Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson to discuss art and transformation in the context of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. The evening begins with a screening of Watson dancing the title role of Gregor Samsa in Arthur Pita’s ballet adaptation of Kafka’s novella, and follows with Watson and Center director H. Peter Steeves discussing the different ways that art and transformation intersect.

Franz Kafka’s novella, published in 1915, tells the story of a salesman named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one day to find himself mysteriously transformed into a large, grotesque insect. His voice and body no longer work like they used to, but his mind is still that of a man with a job and a family. Samsa must learn how to relate to his loved ones, his environment, and his own needs in his new form. With its exploration of extreme physical transformation and its consequences, it’s no wonder that Kafka’s novella has inspired dance adaptations such as Pita’s. The DePaul University Library is excited to point out some other resources related to The Metamorphosis to enhance your exploration of its themes.

The Library has several translations of the novella itself (originally titled Die Verwandlung in German), such as this 2014 translation by Susan Bernofsky or this 1993 edition from Joachim Neugroschel. To read The Metamorphosis alongside some of Kafka’s other writings, choose Selected Short Stories translated by Willa and Edwin Muir, or– why not all of them?– The Complete Stories edited by Nahum N. Glatzer. To see how the story would work on stage as a drama rather than a ballet, check out David Farr and Gísli Örn Gardarsson’s 2006 play adaptation. Music lovers are not left out– there is also a French opera version available to stream from Naxos Music Library.

Does the story leave you a little perplexed? There’s a book for that! Clayton Koelb’s Kafka: A Guide for the Perplexed takes the reader through Kafka’s works and why the perplexity may be purposeful. The Metamorphosis: Translation, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism will give you further insight, with translator/editor Stanley Corngold including chapters on Kafka’s manuscript revisions, the novella’s road to publication, and competing theories of prevalent themes. To consider the story’s lasting influence, try Kafka for the Twenty-first Century (also edited by Corngold along with Ruth V. Gross), a collection of essays that approach Kafka’s work from a variety of contexts, from “Kafka’s racial melancholy” to “Kafka’s visual method.” To study how different translations add their own element of transformation to literature, check out Transforming Kafka: Translation Effects by Patrick O’Neill.

To learn more about the mind that created Gregor Samsa, check out one of the Library’s many biographies of Kafka, such as this one by Harold Bloom, this one by Klaus Wagenbach, or this one by Nicholas Murray. Author Reiner Stach split his biography into multiple volumes, including Kafka, The Early Years and Kafka, The Years of Insight. To hear Kafka’s life story in his own words, try I Am a Memory Come Alive; Autobiographical Writings.

The Metamorphosis has been a source of inspiration and provocation to readers for over a hundred years. We hope these additional resources from the DePaul University Library will help you transform curiosity into a lively discussion with the DePaul Humanities Center.

Event details:
Transformations/In Conversation with Great Minds: Kafka’s Metamorphosis featuring Edward Watson
Thursday, February 16, 2017
DePaul Student Center, room 120
2250 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago
6:30pm — 9:00pm
This event is free and open to the public.

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