“One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that he had been changed into an adorable kitten.”
Like all Quirk books, The Meowmorphosis is a mash-up which takes a classic tale and spins it into fun absurdity (not that the original The Metamorphosis was ever lacking in absurdity).
This particular mash-up, in my opinion, using the insect/kitten switch-a-roo works quite well, barring the very beginning of the book in which Gregor Samsa is unable to walk. It’s easy to visualize the pathetic and grotesque Gregor (from The Metamorphosis) on his round beetle back, legs flailing, incapable of turning over, but a kitten would have no such problem.
The name Gregor Samsa — for those who have not read Kafka — is believed to have been Kafka’s way of informing readers that he himself identified with this character, using the same letter structure in the last name (Kafka/Samsa).
Going through the motions in a world where priorities have been turned upside down, The Metamorphosis is a powerful tale of a man who has submitted to complete and utter meaninglessness.
A defeated soul with an unfulfilling job, no partner in life and not a friend in the world, Gregor supports his family of leeches day-in and day-out, allowing his boss (the “manager”) and his job to govern his every move.
His job IS his life.
His life (or existence) is absent of God, joy, love, passion and hope.
Job + Paycheck = Life in Gregor’s sad world.
Gregor really was — in my opinion – an insect (or kitten in this case) before his physical transformation took place. I think at least that’s what Kafka was trying to state.
In the middle of The Meowmorphosis, the story takes a surprising turn and unlike Gregor of The Metamorphosis, Gregor (the kitten) ventures outdoors. This adventure then becomes a second mash-up — within the same book — using Kafka’s unsettling masterpiece, The Trial, as its foundation.
Within this mash-up, Kafka’s message of authority and submission to hopelessness still somehow gets across. It’s just more subtle.
Luckily, Gregor, the furry kitten, experiences a few moments of love and attention, as any furry kitten might, from his sister and his mother. So, I found a lick of hope (albeit very little) in the story.
Better than none at all.