The Roach, A Corollary (I wonder if a roach has ever been a corollary before?)

In my earlier blog entry, “Requiescat in Pace,” (November 18) I remembered some of my own dear dead, including my husband, Professor Morton Klass.  I alluded to a lifelong argument we’d had that started the very first night we met and was never resolved: Why did Franz Kafka choose the roach in “Metamorphosis”?  Mia, a reader, has written to ask about the argument.

There I was, newly out of graduate school, the proud possessor of a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Writing from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.  In my own eyes I was thus officially licensed!

Mort edited pulp magazines at the time.  He was attending college at night while supporting a widowed mother and a sister.  I ALREADY KNEW EVERYTHING THERE WAS TO KNOW ABOUT LITERATURE!  YOU HAD ONLY TO ASK ME!

I was absolutely convinced that Kafka carefully chose the roach because it was disgusting, symbolic of the lowest form of life. You see a roach; you say, “Uggh!”  It disgusts you.

Mort laughed at me.  “That’s not the way it works.  Kafka was living in a middle European tenement much like this. He needed a symbol.  He looked up at the wall and there it stood poised perfectly – a huge stupid disgusting roach!  ‘Voila!’ he said.”

This argument was NEVER resolved.  Thinking about it all again makes me terribly nostalgic.  But also makes me grateful.  I had Mort.  How lucky I was.  Even if he was wrong!


About blogginggrandma

I'm 86. Legally blind. But a force to be reckoned with!
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2 Responses to The Roach, A Corollary (I wonder if a roach has ever been a corollary before?)

  1. Lt says:

    I so enjoy your style. Thank you for being so adorable! And for the chuckle

  2. mgershun says:

    What a strange coincidence, Sheila – at least three people have mentioned Metamorphosis in the past week – and now your blog! Have you read the new love story by Murakami – a modern riff on the theme? Equally creepy, but also very lovely.
    I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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