Kafka's Metamorphosis - A Gallery of Alternate Book Covers

Google honored Franz Kafka today, on what would've been his 130th birthday, with a Doodle inspired by The Metamorphosis featuring, you guessed it, an insect. It's a great illustration, and great of them to recognize Kafka on his birthday--I was bowled over when they released a Doodle for Italo Calvino's 88th a couple of years ago--but also ironic, since Kafka himself, in a letter to his publisher on October 25th, 1915, asked for the insect Gregor to be nowhere on the cover:
Dear sir, you recently wrote that Ottomar Starke is going to do an illustration for the title page of The Metamorphosis. Now I have had a slight probably wholly unnecessary shock. It occurred to me that Starke might want, let us say, to draw the insect itself. Not that, please, not that! I don’t want to restrict his authority, but only to make this request from my own naturally better knowledge of the story. The insect itself cannot be drawn. It cannot even be shown at a distance. I would be very grateful if you could communicate or underscore my request. If I myself might make suggestions regarding the illustration I would choose scenes like these: the parents and the chief clerk in front of the closed door, or better yet: the parents and the sister in the illuminated room, while the door to the adjoining completely dark room is open.
Starke honored Kafka's wishes, producing a cover that captures the despair of the novella with nary a hint of insect. But come on. How could artists stay away from the image, really? Not only by now is it one of the most famous images from all of literature, and hardly a spoiler, but it's Kafka's own descriptions of Gregor's transformation and his clumsy, armor-shelled as it were body and difficulties adjusting to it--coupled with the fact Kafka never identifies the type of insect--that sparks readers' imaginations, debates and essays, and a ton of inspired cover art that completely ignores Kafka's wishes. In honor of Kafka's birthday, here's a gallery of some of the best alternate Metamorphosis covers...some respecting Kafka's wishes and some not. All gorgeous.

First edition, art by Ottomar Starke.

Artist:Tabi Aziri 

Artist: Elena Ospina

Artist: Salene Jang

Artist: Thiago Rodrigues dos Santos 

Artist: Mina Bach


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