What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka
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Updated 29 February 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka’s novella “The Metamorphosis,” published in 1915, tells the story of Gregor Samsa, a salesman who wakes up one day and discovers that he has transformed into an insect.
His mother and sister are repulsed by his new form, while his father becomes hostile and abusive. Gregor is confined to his room, becoming increasingly isolated from the outside world.
As the days pass, Gregor’s family struggles to adjust to their new circumstances. They take on jobs to make ends meet because Gregor was the sole breadwinner before his transformation. Their lives become consumed by the practicalities of survival, and they begin to view Gregor as little more than a burden.
Kafka explores the absurdity and futility of human existence. Gregor’s transformation is used as a metaphor for the isolation and insignificance that many individuals experience in their lives.
The book also delves into the complexities of family relationships. Gregor’s family initially relies on him for support, but his transformation exposes their own weaknesses and flaws. The novella highlights the strain familial obligations can place on individuals and the potential for resentment and abandonment.
Similar to the majority of Kafka’s writings, “The Metamorphosis” can be read in a single sitting.
Kafka’s writing is renowned for its combination of realism and surrealism, lending his stories a distinct and captivating quality.
The novella, widely considered a literary masterpiece, leaves readers with many unanswered questions.
Kafka’s intentionally ambiguous conclusion leaves room for interpretation and reflection on the themes explored throughout the narrative.
Kafka is known for several other notable works including “The Trial,” “The Castle,” and “The Judgement.”


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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Updated 16 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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  • The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals

Author: William Golding

“Lord of the Flies” is a coming of age novel by British novelist William Golding. First published in 1954, the title has since become a classic of modern literature.

It tells the story of a group of British boys who find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes during a wartime evacuation.

The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals. As the boys struggle to survive and establish order on the island, their society gradually descends into chaos and savagery.

The title refers to a severed pig’s head, symbolizing the evil and primitive instincts that take hold of the boys.

The main characters in the novel include Ralph, a charismatic and responsible boy who tries to maintain order and establish a signal fire to attract rescuers; Jack, a power-hungry and savage boy who becomes the leader of a group of hunters; Piggy, an intelligent but socially marginalized boy who serves as Ralph’s adviser; and Simon, a quiet and introspective boy who experiences a deep connection with nature.

As the story progresses, the boys’ civilization erodes, and they succumb to their primal instincts, engaging in violence and tribal warfare.

“Lord of the Flies” explores the destructive potential of unchecked power, the loss of innocence, and the conflict between civilization and savagery.

The novel has always been subject to various interpretations and perspectives by different readers and scholars. Much of it has been analyzed through the lens of allegorical human nature, political and social commentary, and even Freudian psychology.

“Lord of the Flies” has left a lasting impact on literature and popular culture through its exploration of universal themes, and its enduring relevance in contemporary society.

Its portrayal of the human condition and the fragility of civilization continues to resonate with readers, making it a classic that is worthy of being read again.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Provenance and Possession’ by K. J. P. Lowe

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Provenance and Possession’ by K. J. P. Lowe
Updated 15 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Provenance and Possession’ by K. J. P. Lowe

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Provenance and Possession’ by K. J. P. Lowe

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Renaissance Italy received a bounty of “goods” from Portuguese trading voyages—fruits of empire that included luxury goods, exotic animals and even enslaved people.

Many historians hold that this imperial “opening up” of the world transformed the way Europeans understood the global.

In this book, K.J.P. Lowe challenges such an assumption, showing that Italians of this era cared more about the possession than the provenance of their newly acquired global goods.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Particle Cosmology and Astrophysics’

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Updated 14 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Particle Cosmology and Astrophysics’

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Author: DAN HOOPER

This book explores the exciting interface between the fields of cosmology, high-energy astrophysics, and particle physics, at a level suitable for advanced undergraduate- to graduate-level students as well as active researchers.

Without assuming a strong background in particle physics or quantum field theory, the text is designed to be accessible to readers from a range of backgrounds and presents both fundamentals and modern topics in a modular style that allows for flexible use and easy reference.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Puerto Rico: A National History’

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Updated 13 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Puerto Rico: A National History’

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Author: JORELL MELENDEZ-BADILLO

Puerto Rico is a Spanish-speaking territory of the United States with a history shaped by conquest and resistance. For centuries, Puerto Ricans have crafted and negotiated complex ideas about nationhood.

Jorell Meléndez-Badillo provides a new history of Puerto Rico that gives voice to the archipelago’s people while offering a lens through which to understand the political, economic, and social challenges confronting them today.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘What I Know for Sure’

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Updated 12 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘What I Know for Sure’

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  • Oprah reveals her vulnerabilities as she shares her success stories and the challenges she has faced

Author: Oprah Winfrey

In “What I Know for Sure,” published in 2014, US talk show host and media figure Oprah Winfrey offers insights into the life lessons gained through her career and personal life. At the same time, she invites readers to reflect on their own lives, embrace authenticity, and live a meaningful life.  

One of the strengths of this book is Oprah’s ability to connect with her readers. Her writing style is warm and conversational, making readers feel like they are sitting with her over coffee, while she shares her wisdom and stories. Every chapter of the book is deep and powerful, with a thought-provoking narrative that lingers long after the final page.

Oprah reveals her vulnerabilities as she shares her success stories and the challenges she has faced. She reminds people that even during difficult times, they can grow and change their lives — keeping in mind that is known for her authenticity and desire to encourage others, and her ability to create an atmosphere of trust and connection where people can feel seen and understood.

Through her reflections, she emphasizes the importance of gratitude, mindfulness and self-care, reminding readers of life’s blessings, no matter how small or big.

She also focuses on the power of living in the moment, and encourages readers to gain a brighter perspective on life by slowing down, appreciating the beauty around them, and enjoying the simplest things.

Overall, the book offers more than just personal insights. It serves as a guide for dealing with relationships, accepting change, and finding meaning in life.

Oprah also shares valuable advice on topics such as forgiveness, letting go of fear, and embracing vulnerability; while inspiring readers to step out of their comfort zone, take risks, and pursue their passions with unwavering determination.