The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (an Audio book by Benedict Cumberbatch)

Few years ago, I thought it was weird to call audio book as reading…it’s listening NOT READING. I also found it difficult to understand how a person can concentrate listening to someone else reading a book for you. The first time I heard an Audio book was titled In The Death Room, read by Stephen King. It was more like eagerness to hear the voice of my favorite author. But I fell asleep every time I listened to the first 5 minutes…I felt like someone was reading a bedtime story for me. I tried hard to stay awake…fortunately I finally able to do it.

Few months back, I listened to Shawshank Redemption (read by … ) and to my surprise I no longer felt asleep. I got used to listening to the voice of the man reading the story. Then I listened to another Stephen King’s books and shorts (which I will review later)…I realized that the sleeping syndrome had completely disappeared!

I heard about Benedict Cumberbatch (one of my favorite actors) reading audio book, but I couldn’t find it. My friend, who happened to love Benedict too, found the link and gave it to me…yeaaaa!!! So, for the first time ever, I listened to an audio book from non-Stephen King Book. Although…his sexy voice tends to distract me! If you haven’t heard Benny…you are definitely missing one of the sexiest voice on earth (as much as I love Cillian Murphy, I dare to say that Benny has sexier voice than him 😉 )

First, let’s talk about the reader and then I will talk about the fascinating story of the Metamorphosis.

Out of four audio book readers I have heard, Bennedict is the best…I am not bias by the fact that I love him as an actor. I do believe that his acting experience along with his education in acting made him a better reader. He knows how to change his voice and tone perfectly. Stephen King tried to do the same in In The Death Room, he was quite good but still in no comparison to Benny. Frank Muller, the reader of Shawshank Redemption, did well but still he was lack of that change of voice for different character like what Benny did in The Metamorphosis. Benny did well in changing his voice as a female, as another person and even as the sicken Gregor. I felt so entertained…he made it like a radio play rather than just reading a book. I had more audio book by him and eager to listen to each of them soon. I am now wishing for Cillain to do an audio book 😉

Now…let’s talk about the story!

When Gregor Samsa woke one morning from an uneasy dream, he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous insect. He was lying on his hard shell liked back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his dome shaped brown body bended with reinforcing arches on top of which the blanket maintained its precarious old.

The metamorphosis is an amazing story of how some modern people treat their familyit was terribly sad but sadly it happened all around us. Although it started with a line of how a young man named Gregor Samsa was transformed into a giant insect but the story itself centered more on his family and how he was badly treated by them. Listening to the story almost made me cry for Gregor and pure hate toward his family.

When Gregor changed into his beast form, he could no longer speak but still able to understand human language. He was still him inside his ugly shell. He was the backbone of his family, he worked hard even though he hated his job because he had to pay his family debt as well as feeding his family and fulfilling all their needs. No matter how tired he was, he was happy to see that everything he had done had made his father, mother and sister happy. He was so proud of his sister and planned to send her to a music school to be a better violist. But his dream of sending his little sister shattered when he suddenly changed into an insect.

At first, his sister still gave him food despite the fact that she was utterly scared of her now transformed brother. Gradually, she merely gave him food without even caring to check him. She even made her mother helped her to take away everything inside his room. His mother wasn’t allowed to see him because of her bad condition, when he got a glimpse of Gregor’s insect form, she collapsed. His father acted as if Gregor no longer exist.

Things became worst each day…Gregor was considered more as a burden rather than family member. His father, mother and sister completely forgot how he had sacrificed his own happiness to fulfill their needs. At some point, they were disgusted at his existence. They didn’t even feel sad when he died in loneliness.

At first, I thought it would be a monster story, I was taken by surprise when I realized that it is more into human/family relation rather than a monster story. The changed that had happened to Gregor can be considered as a terribly ill man because he was tired. His sickness had turned him into a burdened person, so sick that he had to be taken care in any way possible. But instead of tending him and caring for him, everyone in his family looked back in disgust and wishing he was away and they could be get rid of him. It sickened me to hear what the family had done to him.

I can’t stop thinking of my mother when I heard about Gregor, in her last months, she no longer had power to do anything (of course she didn’t look monstrous like Gregor) …I even had to change everything she was wearing and bathed her. She relied so much on me and my father. But never once my father and I complained about her or ignored her. She wasn’t a burden for us because we know how she had spent most of her life caring for our need. I hated Gregor’s family because they were so ungrateful and how could they just thought of him as burden which they had to get rid of? It was so sick!!

Sadly, it happened around us. I know a family who did something like that…their father had stroke and instead of caring for him…they let him slept alone in a room (separated from his wife), his wife and daughters completely ignored him. They gave him food and changed his clothes only because of routine. The poor father died alone in a room without anyone caring for him.

Despite the hatred toward Samsa family, my sympathy for Gregor is bigger than my hatred. I really like this short story because it has strong connection to me. I rarely had emotional feeling when reading a book, this book really touches my heart.

Book Details:

Title: The Metamorphosis
Author: Franz Kafka
Reader: Benedict Cumberbatch
Time: 98 minutes 22 seconds

I shared this in my R.I.P Challenge, The Peril of Short Story because of Gregor’s monstrous form and because having a family like Gregor’s is the scariest thing on earth for me.

If you want to read/listen to this audio book, you can hear it here:

37 thoughts on “The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (an Audio book by Benedict Cumberbatch)

  1. Yes, at first, listening to an audiobook is quite different than reading the material. Yet, most people when they were young were read to by a parent. It’s long been a traditional and natural method of storytelling. Once it clicks back in, audiobooks can be quite a wonderful experience. Excellent review, Novroz. Thanks for this, and the links.

    1. Unfortunately Mike…here in Indonesia, parents rarely read to their children. I have never been read to my whole life. I guess that’s why I was so sleepy the first time I try it.

      I slowly enjoy audiobook but reading the real material is still better.

      Thank you for reading Mike…and I hope you enjoy the story as much as I do after you hear it from those links.

  2. Yes, Metamorphisis is a very sad story about something that happens all the time in real life – being ostracized because of an affliction, disease or bad accident, that makes people look at someone differently even though the person inside is still the same. I have not yet ventured into audio books but may try it out soon.

    1. nice to know that you have same interpretation as me. It’s really sad. I listened to it twice and still find it so sad.

      I think you should try audio book in your own time…it’s a bit difficult at first.

  3. I haven’t caught on with the audio book and I’m not an auditory person so not sure if I’ll like it. Maybe there will come a day I will listen to an audio book. I meant to read this for a long time and I know it is not that thick either. Thanks for the review Novroz.

    1. well…I still haven’t tried audio from thick novel yet…I can only manage short stories so far.

      thank you for reading Jo 🙂
      You should try finding time to read it, it’s a great moral story

  4. It’s one of the most famous stories of German Literature. It seesm there is a movie now as well. It would have been a great contribution for German Literature Month.
    That’s that but what really amazed me in your review is how you link this to our world, our lives. I think this is the very first time I see someone read this story like that.
    Kafka is this giant of German literature and many people are even afraid to read him and when they do they get lost in trying to interpret what he might have wanted to say… I think you approached it from a totally different side and pointed out a deeper meaning.

    1. oh…I didn’t realize it was THAT famous. I should thank Benny for making me listen to this book.

      When I wrote my review, then published it here and in my goodreads account, I saw many readers also have similar interpretation as I have shared here. I immediately think of a terribly sick family member when I heard the story. It could be many kind of sickness…in goodreads, someone even thought of a family member who went crazy.

      What’s your own interpretation, Caroline? I assume you had read the story.

      1. Yes, I have but in school… Quite a while ago. 🙂
        I think we were force fed some interpretation. I thought it was about someone trapped in expectations of others, bound by rules, something like that. I completely focused on him, less on the reaction of others but as I said….long time ago now and I cannot remember the “real” interpretation.

        1. forced interpretation doesn’t sound fun 😦

          Somehow…I am glad Indonesia has no must-read-books at school. I am not sure I want to be told that the interpretation of some books have to be like this or that.

  5. I cannot stand any of Kafka’s books 🙂 Hellish experience reading them in High School…
    Are you watching Cumberbatch in PARADE’S END which is airing currently at BBC? 🙂

  6. It’s ironic that the audio book put you to sleep when I use them in the car to keep me awake when I’m driving long distances. It requires exactly the right amount and kind of attention. I used to use them to keep the kids quiet on trips, too.

    1. I like listening to music to keep me awake…but now I can concentrate better when listening to audio book.

      I am not sure I can concentrate with the story while driving like you did. 2 concentration is too much for me.

      1. Driving is second nature to me now. I’ve probably logged many many hours at it in road trips alone. At one point I had a daily commute of fifty miles (round trip). I try to bicycle instead as much as I can, but these days I’m always dealing with a load, often involving kids who say they wouldn’t be caught dead in a rickshaw.

  7. I really, really can’t wait to see Benny and Cilli in a movie together just to see your reaction, ha..ha.. Hopefully they’d play sworn enemies so you won’t know who to root for, he..he..

    1. It would be heaven to see them both in one movie…and maybe I can have David Tennant, Keanu and Paul Bettany as well 😉

      Well…unfortunately Benny still has high mountain to climb to get close to Cilli. If they are to play sworn enemies, I am rooting for Cillian without second thought 😉

          1. That’s weird. That’s why I always type my comments in a text edit first to make sure I don’t lose it when there’s a glitch.

            Ahah yeah, we all have our dream cast don’t we?? So I see that you are still partial to Cilli even compared to Benny. Glad to hear, I like Cilli better too, he’s definitely far more versatile I think.

          2. It happens all the time when i am using my mobile 😦 That’s why I often let comments unanswered for a day because I hate answering with my mobile…typing something twice is annoying.

            Agree!!! He is more versatile than Benny and more handsome too 😉 (Sorry Ben)

  8. I have this on my to-read list, but before reading your review I didn’t know what it was about. Despite the sad (and angering) twist of the story, I think I will enjoy it.
    Novroz, I am very sorry for the loss of your mother. Both my parents are relatively healthy, but my mother did return to her father’s sickbed to help nurse him along with the rest of the family. I cannot imagine not caring for loved ones.
    As for audiobooks: I am glad that you have discovered the joy of “reading” by listening 😀 Looking forward to more audiobook reviews!

    1. People have different opinion about it…maybe you will not have same thought as I am when you read it 😉 I am curious with what you’ll think after reading the book. Somehow, I know you will like it 🙂

      Thank you Tze-Wen. Me too…it’s unthinkable for me to just ditch a family member because of their inability to do anything. Especially one so close to me.
      This listening book is an art i still need too master, I am still very picky. I have one ready to be reviewed…the unfinished one.

  9. I’m a fan of audio books. I grew up listening to them on our family vacations when we would drive for hours. I should try and find some of King’s readings. I don’t know if I’ve heard his voice.

      1. People in Maine and Massachusetts have a thick accent, in my opinion. I was just getting used to the Bostonian accent when I moved. Now I’m getting used to English, Irish, and Scottish accents. We’ll see how long it takes me 🙂

        1. You know, I grew up with American movie but I am still unable to differentiate American accent except for Southern.

          I watch more British movies the last 10years and I am already quite good to differentiate British, Scottish and Irish accent…I can even tell the different between Northern Ireland and Cork accent.

          I dont know why I can tell the different between American accent.

          1. I grew up in a part of America which isn’t known for accents. But now that I’m in London, people tell me that they love my accent and ask me to continue speaking. It’s really odd, since for 30 something years I wasn’t known to have an accent.

          2. Well…to the British, you have American accent 😉
            I can imagine how unusual (at first) that someone told you, you have accent when you never realize it. I had that experience once as Indonesian has many accents.

  10. This is one of those books I know I ought to read…because all I know is that wonderful first sentence! And if Benedict Cumberbatch is reading the audio…that might be the push I need to finally explore this!

  11. I don’t listen to Audio book, I never have a chance (may be I should) but I did read Metamorphosis. In fact, I just finished it two days ago and I’m reading it again. It’s my habit to read thing one or two times. It gives me a different aspect when I read it again. Anyway, I feel the reactions from his family is utterly ridiculous. Like you said they are ungrateful. I even doubt that is the way you treat a human. George is not just a bug for them. I felt they treated him as if he carried some serious illness. I just can’t believe the end that they didn’t felt any guilt when he died, especially when they used his money to go around the country, the new apartment they moved in was bought by George. Hello, do you think all that stuffs come from the sky? Seriously? If I was George, I would come back and haunt them for rest of their lives.

    1. Hi Izavi…
      I am glad you have same interpretation as I am.

      You know, it might sound a bit inhuman, I mean his family, but it happens not far from me. It was somewhat like that. I couldn’t believe it myself. I think Kafka merely wrote something he knew well from his society.

      hahaha the idea of haunting the ungrateful family is brilliant!!

    1. Oh! I didn’t know that. I haven’t check it in ages. Maybe you can search it in google. My friend found that link by accident.

      Well…hello fellow Cumberbabes 😉
      I will try o upload what I already have…but I couldn’t promise much because my net connection isn’t that good.

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