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by Franz Kafka
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From Publishers Weekly
Kuper has adapted short works by Kafka into comics before, but here he tackles the most famous one of all: the jet-black comedy that ensues after the luckless Gregor Samsa turns into a gigantic bug. The story loses a bit in translation (and the typeset text looks awkward in the context of Kuper's distinctly handmade drawings). A lot of the humor in the original comes from the way Kafka plays the story's absurdities absolutely deadpan, and the visuals oversell the joke, especially since Kuper draws all the human characters as broad caricatures. Even so, he works up a suitably creepy frisson, mostly thanks to his drawing style. Executed on scratchboard, it's a jittery, woodcut-inspired mass of sharp angles that owes a debt to both Frans Masereel (a Belgian woodcut artist who worked around Kafka's time) and MAD magazine's Will Elder. The knotty walls and floors of the Samsas' house look like they're about to dissolve into dust. In the book's best moments, Kuper lets his unerring design sense and command of visual shorthand carry the story. The jagged forms on the huge insect's belly are mirrored by folds in business clothes; thinking about the debt his parents owe his employer, Gregor imagines his insectoid body turning into money slipping through an hourglass. Every thing and person in this Metamorphosis seems silhouetted and carved, an effect that meshes neatly with Kafka's sense of nightmarish unreality.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Gregor Samsa wakes up and discovers he has been changed into a giant cockroach. Thus begins "The Metamorphosis," and Kuper translates this story masterfully with his scratchboard illustrations. The text is more spare, but the visuals are so strongly rendered that little of the original is changed or omitted. Though the story remains set in Kafka's time, Kuper has added some present-day touches, such as fast-food restaurants, that do not detract from the tale. He has used the medium creatively, employing unusual perspectives and panel shapes, and text that even crawls on the walls and ceilings, as Gregor does. The roach has an insect body but human facial expressions. Once he is pelted with the apple, readers can watch his rapid decline, as his body becomes more wizened and his face more gaunt. This is a faithful rendition rather than an illustrated abridgment.
Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Looking on oneself as something alien, forgetting the sight, remembering the gaze," wrote Kafka, perhaps presaging his most famous tale, in which a workaday traveling salesman wakes one day to find he is now a huge dung beetle. Kafka expertly portrays the vagaries of the human heart--all of its sad glory and tinny selfishness--in a recording that the gifted Martin Jarvis elevates to an audio classic, employing his storytelling skills and knowing inflections in a lively and charming narration occasionally punctuated by scratchy, whimsical violins. Jarvis has firmly established himself as a source of finely nuanced theater of the mind. This unforgettable audio movie is vivid and disturbing, shot through with black humor. D.J.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Kuper follows his adaptations of shorter Kafka stories (Give It Up!, 1995) with one of the author's most renowned works, the tale of Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. Gregor's plight, his growing alienation from his horrified family, and his gradual acceptance of the metamorphosis have come to be viewed as the quintessential symbolic depiction of modern existence. Against all expectations, Kuper's cartoonish style doesn't throw off the story's balance by accentuating Kafka's black humor. Rather, Kuper's visual depiction of Gregor's agony and the family's cruelty toward him points up what is disturbing in the tale, and the portrayal of Gregor's physical deterioration is truly harrowing. Moreover, Kuper's signature scratchboard technique, which resembles traditional woodcut style, suits the story's period, while his lively, expressive drawing lends contemporary vitality. Remaining faithful to its literary origin, Kuper thoroughly inhabits the tale, making his realization a genuine work of posthumous collaboration. The result is a Classics Illustrated with class. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“Kafka’s stoic Euro-alienation meets and merges with Kuper’s thoroughly American rock and roll alienation.”—Jules Feiffer
“The ride from book to comic can be bumpy. Mr. Kuper navigates the transition with precision.”—New York Times
“Kafka’s anguished archetypal characters are easily rendered into visual equivalents and given new life in Kuper’s raw, expressionistic graphic style.”—Publishers Weekly
“Darkly appropriate . . . Kuper’s work rivals that of Art Spiegelman.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Bubbling beneath the surface is a caustic batch of black humor that is as much unsettling as it is absurd. This is the magic of Kafka. And Kuper gives it a postmodern edge here, with an intriguing dance of picture and text.”—Gannett News Service
“Kuper’s scratchboard style . . . is reminiscent of the German expressionist artists . . . and his cartoony approach accentuates Kafka’s dark humor.”—Booklist
?Kafka?s stoic Euro-alienation meets and merges with Kuper?s thoroughly American rock and roll alienation.??Jules Feiffer
?The ride from book to comic can be bumpy. Mr. Kuper navigates the transition with precision.??New York Times
?Kafka?s anguished archetypal characters are easily rendered into visual equivalents and given new life in Kuper?s raw, expressionistic graphic style.??Publishers Weekly
?Darkly appropriate . . . Kuper?s work rivals that of Art Spiegelman.??Chicago Sun-Times
?Bubbling beneath the surface is a caustic batch of black humor that is as much unsettling as it is absurd. This is the magic of Kafka. And Kuper gives it a postmodern edge here, with an intriguing dance of picture and text.??Gannett News Service
?Kuper?s scratchboard style . . . is reminiscent of the German expressionist artists . . . and his cartoony approach accentuates Kafka?s dark humor.??Booklist
A brilliant, darkly comic reimagining of Kafka’s classic tale of family, alienation, and a giant bug.
Acclaimed graphic artist Peter Kuper presents a kinetic illustrated adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Kuper’s electric drawings—where American cartooning meets German expressionism—bring Kafka’s prose to vivid life, reviving the original story’s humor and poignancy in a way that will surprise and delight readers of Kafka and graphic novels alike.
From the Publisher
"When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin." With this startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first sentence, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetlelike insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing -- though absurdly comic -- meditation on human feelings of inadequecy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the mosst widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction. As W.H. Auden wrote, "Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man."
Inside Flap Copy
A brilliant, darkly comic reimagining of Kafka?s classic tale of family, alienation, and a giant bug.
Acclaimed graphic artist Peter Kuper presents a kinetic illustrated adaptation of Franz Kafka?s The Metamorphosis. Kuper?s electric drawings?where American cartooning meets German expressionism?bring Kafka?s prose to vivid life, reviving the original story?s humor and poignancy in a way that will surprise and delight readers of Kafka and graphic novels alike.
About the Author
PETER KUPER’s work has appeared in Time, Esquire, The New Yorker, and the New York Times, among others. He’s the author and illustrator of several books, including Give It Up!, a collection of Kafka stories.
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