The Curious Case of Kafka’s “Odradek”:

A Trickster in the Old World


  • Shamsad Mortuza Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka and Advisor, Department of English and Humanities, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh



Kafka, animal, sacred, profane, trickster, assemblage, thing-power, Marxism, psychoanalysis


Franz Kafka’s “The Cares of a Family Man” is a narrative riddle that has created an interpretive frenzy. Central to the discussion of the short story is Odradek, a wooden bobbin, which veers between being human and nonhuman. The transgression of identity is informed by an assemblage that makes Odradek a character that is both social and anti-social. Kafka presents this character as a bricolage between the sacred and the profane. More importantly, it is connected to some threads which can be identified as a metaphor for narrative. This paper considers various interpretations of Odradek and compares it with the culture hero, the trickster. AlthoughOdradek is a modernist figure that responds to the angst of the Europe after the Great War, I shall argue that it can be considered as a marginal figure trickster that continuously asserts the need for continuance and survival.




How to Cite

Mortuza, S. . (2015). The Curious Case of Kafka’s “Odradek”:: A Trickster in the Old World. Crossings: A Journal of English Studies, 6(1), 104–111.