German Interlinear Translation of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” Released!

InterlinearBooks released a German to English Interlinear translation of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” today! This release is one further step in our strategy of bringing a series of Interlinear translations in different languages in the upcoming months.

Sample International Translation of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"
Sample International Translation of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”

1. Who is Franz Kafka?

Franz Kafka was a German-writing author whose works have made a mark on the XXth century literature. He wrote simple yet profound stories that have influenced the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre or Albert Camus. Here’s what literary critics say about him: > Kafka works from generality to detail, giving his fiction the feeling that something deeply significant is going on, if only we could grasp what precisely it is … Louis Begley, one of the best interpreters of Kafka’s life … claims that Kafka “wrote about the human condition.” Erich Heller held that Kafka’s writing transcended “most realities of the age.” Neither man, though, tells quite how Kafka did these things…

2. What is “The Metamorphosis”?

“The Metamorphosis” (or “Die Verwandlung” as it is known in German) is perhaps the most famous of Kafka’s stories and a seminal piece of German-language literature. The story is centered around Gregor Samsa’s sudden and obscure transformation into a kind of a monstrous vermin (or, as it is called in the German book, an Ungeziefer) and the consequences of this. Although Kafka took multiple precautions to avoid that, “The Metamorphosis” is perhaps one of the most widely interpreted stories by literary critics and enthusiasts alike. The story is full of hidden meanings and deliberate word choices, of which the word Ungeziefer is a great example: > The story famously begins by saying that Gregor Samsa woke up in his bed transformed into an Ungeziefer. Ungeziefer literally means “unclean animal not suitable for sacrifice” and is sometimes used colloquially to mean “bug” or “insect.” Yet it does not simply mean a “bug,” “insect” or “beetle,” since there are German words for those (“Wanze,” “Insekt,” “Käfer”). In all likelihood, this obscure meaning of the word is precisely the point! Kafka did not want Gregor to be transformed into a specific thing. Even Gregor himself doesn’t know what he was. That actually adds to the vagueness of the story, and the unclarity of Gregor’s faith. To add even more obscurity, Kafka even asked the designer of the first book cover not to include any illustrations of the Ungeziefer.

3. What does the Interlinear translation include?

Our Interlinear translation includes the entire original story of around 20,000 words in the Interlinear format. The Interlinear translation follows our principle of “literal but understandable” and tries to remain as faithful to the text as possible. Here’s how the Interlinear translation begins:

Example of Kafka's Interlinear translation by
Illustration of text of Kafka’s Interlinear translation by
It proceeds translating the whole book like this. Apart from following the principle “literal but understandable,” the translation also tries to use German to English cognates (like translating Hinderniss as hindrance instead of its more usual translation obstacle). Look at the translation page to find out more about the methods used in the translation. ### 4. Who is the translation for?

First of all, our Interlinear German translation is ideal for German learners who have some knowledge of German, but do not yet have all of the vocabulary to easily read German literature. Since Kafka had a somewhat abstract writing style, the story includes many general words (for example, the story keeps referring to the main characters as Father and Mother instead of by their names or biographical details). Therefore, the book is pretty accessible to German learners. And yet, arguably, the text also provides the right amount of challenge for learners to improve their German. Second, our Interlinear translation is great for people interested in analyzing Kafka more deeply, too! Since the original German language is such an important part of Kafka’s works (Kafka’s fans often speak about the “untranslatability” of his work and about the need to read them in the original), a reading of our Interlinear translation is likely to enrich your understanding of the original text even if you have already read it in translation. For example, as observed by a commentator of Kafka: > Kafka’s sentences often deliver an unexpected impact just before the period — which is the finalizing meaning and focus. This is achieved from the sentence construction in the original German, where the verbs of subordinate clauses are put at the end.

Thus, by reading the Interlinear translation, you will not only be able to improve your German, but you will also be able to get more of the full effect of the book by seeing Kafka’s original German constructions. ### 5. Where do I get the translation?

You can access the translation on our website. The translation is available for purchase there, and you can also read more about the translation by navigating on that page. ### 6. Other translations and important things!

If you are not interested in our German Interlinear book, you may want to check out our Swedish or Lithuanian Interlinear translations instead. Moreover, we are constantly working on releasing new translations and new languages, and you can sign up to our mailing list to be among the first to find out what languages and books we are translating. We would also love to hear from you! If you have any questions, ideas or suggestions, do not hesitate to write to us at We love talking to people and hearing what they have to say! Lastly, we would appreciate if you could spread the news about this Interlinear book. We are only able to make this because there are people buying our books, and it would be really nice if you let more people know about us. If you think this translation may be useful to your friends, please click on the Facebook or Twitter share buttons below this post and share it! Thanks!

Did you like this post? This comes from Interlinear Books – we make Interlinear translations for language learners, where each word and expression has a translation right below. Be sure to check out this blog for news and short translations, and our website for our purchasable Interlinear book translations. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.

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