'When Gregor Samsa woke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into some kind of monstrous vermin.' With a bewildering blend of the everyday and the fantastical, Kafka thus begins his most famous short story, The Metamorphosis. A commercial traveller is unexpectedly freed from his dreary job by his inexplicable transformation into an insect, which drastically alters his relationship with his family. Kafka considered publishing it with two of the stories included here in a volume to be called Punishments. The Judgement also concerns family tensions, when a power struggle between father and son ends with the father passing an enigmatic judgement on the helpless son. The third story, In the Penal Colony, explores questions of power, justice, punishment, and the meaning of pain in a colonial setting. These three stories are flanked by two very different works. Meditation, the first book Kafka published, consists of light, whimsical, often poignant mood-pictures, while in the autobiographical Letter to his Father, Kafka analyses his difficult relationship in forensic and devastating detail.
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Joyce Crick taught at University College London for many years. She has written on Kafka's first English translators Willa and Edwin Muir, and for Oxford World's Classics she has translated Freud's Interpretation of Dreams (winner of the Schlegel-Tieck prize in 2000), and edited and translated a selection of Grimm's Tales. Ritchie Robertson is the author of the Very Short Introduction to Kafka. For Oxford World's Classics he has translated Hoffmann's The Golden Pot and Other Stories and introduced editions of Freud and Schnitzler. He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann.
Meditation ; The Judgement ; The Metamorphosis ; In the Penal Colony ; Letter to his Father