Does Gregor Samsa Crawl over the Ceiling and Walls? Intra-narrative Fiction in Kafka’s Die Verwandlung

Fernando Bermejo-Rubio


The overwhelming majority of scholars assume that in Die Verwandlung Gregor crawls over the walls and the ceiling. The intra-narrative reality of the sticky substance (“Klebstoff”) which, according to the narrator, Gregor has in his extremities, is also taken for granted. A close reading of the text allows us to infer, however, that the purported crawling and the sticky substance are a mere product of the imagination of Gregor’s deeply perturbed mind, and that Kafka himself never took the references to the “Klebstoff” and the “Herumkriechen” seriously: they are nothing but intra-narrative fiction.Thisconclusion provides another cogent argument a contrario that Gregor Samsa is always—for the author and for the other characters in the novella—purely and simply a human being. (FB-R)