Have any of you been to Google.com today? If not, hurry over there and take a look at Google’s latest “doodle” logo. In place of the regular multi-colored text, today on July 3, Google doodled a cockroach coming through a door. He is even donning “press hat”, bow tie and a briefcase. A little odd, don’t you think?
Every once and a while Google will roll out a new doodle on their front page, typically to commemorate the birthday of a historical figure or the anniversary date of an important event. June 3rd, 2013 would mark the 130th the birthday of Franz Kafka, a German writer and novelist known for his abstract and existential themes. After earning a law degree and working at an insurance agency, Kafka spent much of his spare time writing novels and short stories. He would later leave his job, dedicating the remainder of his life to his works. Many of his writings were heavy themed, dealing with such topics as alienation, parent and child conflict and bureaucracy.
Google’s doodle honors Kafka iconic novella The Metamorphosis, the story of a salesman named Gregor Samsa who woke up one day to discovery that he had mysteriously metamorphosed into a “monstrous vermin”. Scholars have since interpreted Kafka’s idea as a giant bug or insect, most similar to a cockroach. Gregor, horrified by his new appearance, confines himself to his apartment. When family and work colleagues coming looking for him, he finds it difficult to communicate through the doorway because his voice has also transformed.
Long story short, his sister starts to take care of him as he soon becomes completely dependent on her for survival. His family soon after starts to feel the financial burden of his transformation, as Gregor was a primary source of income for other members of his family. He has a few run-ins with his dad. He eventually dies and his family is actually happy and relieved as they feel the financial burden has been lifted.
Yeah, I know, not necessarily the happiest story you’ve heard today, but The Metamorphosis and other of Kafka’s writings are considered some of the most influential writings of the 20th century.