Willumsen, Noah () Reading Kafka: Or, If You Find the Odradek, Kill It. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished). Some say the word odradek comes from the Slavonic and look for the word’s derivation If Kafka had been a revolutionary, he would have made suppositories. “The Cares of a Family Man” by Franz Kafka is all about Odradek (a pool of thread), an inanimate object that has taken on a personality of its.

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I will focus on “Die Sorge des Hausvaters” as a case study, though I will also touch on Die Verwandlung”Von den Gleichnissen” and the aphorisms. Not that he is simply in a negative relation to it; he is rather the very schema of its negation, and this schematism is essential to the literary quality of the story.

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In a parallel movement, the family man recognizes the person of Odradek: One is tempted to believe that this entity once had some purposive form and is now simply broken.

Worries of a Family Man : Mediations : Journal of the Marxist Literary Group

Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir. Some say the word Odradek is of Slavonic origin, and try to account for it on that basis. Odradek represents commoditiesit is “what is left of life once everything is reduced to materialism”.

Because it is unintelligible without reference to our own body, the sentence does not allow us the distanced reading that the narrator invites. These details offer the reader the ability to examine and criticize the purpose and necessities of objects for things or people such as Odradek.

Reading Kafka: Or, If You Find the Odradek, Kill It

Others again believe it to be of German kkafka, only influenced by Slavonic. It appears not unlike an exhausted karka for thread, wound about by “old, broken-off bits of thread, knotted and tangled together, of the most varied sorts and colors”.

The smile before the useless and obsolete thing kzfka one of superiority. One is tempted to believe that the creature once had some sort of intelligible shape and is now only a brokendown remnant. In any case, closer scrutiny is impossible, since Odradek is extraordinarily nimble and can never be laid hold of. But it is not only a spool, for a small wooden crossbar sticks out of the middle of the star, and another small rod is joined to that at a right angle.


Odradek could be a way of naming something that is meaningless, a kind of semantic paradox. A religious kqfka opens up another interpretation of the text. Their end is external, their particular forms inessential. He evidently harms nobody; but the idea that he is furthermore to outlive me I find almost painful.

This indicates that Odradek has no identifiable meaning, and therefore no apparent origin. Others think it comes from the Kafia, only being influenced by the Slavonic. He is the extreme image of liberty amidst the effort required by propriety; a ,afka neglected but perfectly safe, since it is made of parts that nobody wants; a lumpenproletariat without hunger and without fear of the police.

Will he therefore one day tumble down the stairs before the feet of my children and my children’s children, trailing a line of thread after him? But it is not only a spool, for a small wooden crossbar sticks out of the middle of the star, and another small rod is joined to that at a right angle.

Worries of a Family Man

The uncertainty of both interpretations allows one to assume with justice that neither is accurate, especially as neither of them provides an intelligent meaning of the word.

Our task as readers is not to reduce these deeply ambiguous flights of language to representation but to engage creatively those very becomings that reading Kafka entails. The narrative then begins to seem intentional; there is a strategy in its sensible, descriptive gesture. Meksin goes on to indicate that the physical description of Odradek with its wooden crossbar sticks joined to that at a right angle can also remind us of crucifixion. Throughout the story, the narrator provides an extensive analysis of Odradek, attempting to emphasize how the object has taken on a life of its own, displaying life like qualities and traits, as well as his silent relationship with the object.


But we have already seen that immortality would not make sense to him. The goal of this paper is to problematize allegorical readings of Kafka. This twin recognition — of the existence of Odradek and of subjective unhappiness hidden only unsuccessfully by the reasonable public face — is what needs to be explicated.

Check date values in: The story deals with the narrators attempt to make sense of the only additional character, Odradek, and gives a detailed description of the creature in the second paragraph:. One is tempted to believe that the creature once had some sort of intelligible shape and is now only a broken-down remnant.

Sometimes he is not to be seen for a month at a time, having probably moved on to other houses; but he never fails to return to our house. The procedure is always the same: Schocken Books Exhausted memory, implicit memory, and the return of the repressed. Anything that dies has had some kind of aim in life, some kind of activity, which has worn out; but that does not apply to Odradek. Recovered Memories and False Memories. Retrieved from ” https: Its brief, delicate arabesque is extremely violent and touches the nerve of an entire culture.

By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. It sounds rather like the rustling of fallen leaves.

The Odradek – The Museum of Imaginary Beings

While Rammelmeier argues odrade clean-cut metaphorical interpretations of the story, he acknowledges that Odradek possesses some supernatural qualities, such as disappearance and reappearance. This creature and its description can be read from different points of view, since the text deliberately obscures the nature of Odradek and its purpose.

He adds that, due to the text’s stylistic dryness, a reader who reads the story through an ideological lens may find evidence for any interpretation they may wish to hold.