"He woke to discover that he had undergone a metamorphosis and become Gregor Samsa." So begins Haruki Murakami’s latest story, "Samsa in Love," published this week in The New Yorker. This story, an inversion of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” from the perspective of an insect who awakes to find himself as Gregor Samsa, was waiting to be written. And it was waiting for Murakami, the postmodern Kafka, to write it. On top of all that, it’s a moving love story of sorts.
Some of my other favorite passages from the story:
Samsa had no idea where he was, or what he should do. All he knew was that he was now a human whose name was Gregor Samsa. And how did he know that? Perhaps someone had whispered it in his ear while he lay sleeping? But who had he been before he became Gregor Samsa? What had he been?
“It’s strange, isn’t it?” the woman said in a pensive voice. “Everything is blowing up around us, but there are still those who care about a broken lock, and others who are dutiful enough to try to fix it… . But maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe working on the little things as dutifully and honestly as we can is how we stay sane when the world is falling apart.”
No longer did he wish to be a fish or a sunflower—or anything else, for that matter. He was glad to be human. For sure, it was a great inconvenience to have to walk on two legs and wear clothes. There were so many things he didn’t know. Yet had he been a fish or a sunflower, and not a human being, he might never have experienced this emotion. So he felt.