Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Samsa in Love" by Haruki Murakami - published in The New Yorker, October 2013

Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite contemporary novelists.  I have read and posted on most of his translated novels and some of his short stories.  My main purpose in this post is to let my readers know there is a new story, "Samsa in Love" in the public online area of The New Yorker.  

"Samsa in Love" is a very strange and intriguing story in the tradition of magic realism.  As this told in the first person story opens something wakens in a bed to find he had been transformed into George Sasma, the name of the central character in Kafka's "The Metamorphosis".  He does not really recognize or understand his new human body.  The opening of the story, we find about four pages into the six page story, that it is set in Prague, at a time the city is being invaded.  The greatest mystery in this marvelous work concerns what was Sasma before his transformation or is it all a delusion.  Things get really strange when a woman locksmith  shows up to fix a broken lock on one of the bedrooms. To make it all the odder, she is a hunchback.   There is a hint that the narrator might have been kept locked in that room, his parents are out, it seems anyway.  

What does this story mean?  Haven't much of a clue I care to advance.  It is very much a fun story to read. 

Have you read "Samsa in Love"?   What is your take on it.


Anonymous said...

To understand this story, you need to have read The metamorphosis. You should also know Kafka's life story as well as Prague's history.

What happens in this story is that Gregor Samsa, on the morning of Hitler's invasion, metamorphoses back into the human being that he was before he became a beetle and was locked up by his parents. Which is why he is afraid of birds etc and doesn't have a clue how to use his human body- since he had been a beetle.

And because Kafka's parents were jewish it is hinted that both his parents and his two sisters have been taken away by the Third Reich just that very morning, an act that somehow released him from his beetle-existence- hence the four empty places at the breakfast table - Kafka in fact had three sisters, but Ottilie had been sympathetic to him, and not a part of the oprression surrounding him. (Kafka's two sisters actually perished in concentration camps.)Kafka, like Samsa, lived in his parents' home, oppressed by his dominant father but almost a psycological prisoner who was unable to leave. So the story is as much about Gregor Samsa as Franz Kafka, which is fair, as Kafka even made sure their last names rhymed, which is a hint and a half.

Mel u said...

Anonymous normally i don't post anonymous comments but yours is worthwhile. ,