Abstract
 

This paper examines Kafka’s character Odradek appearing in his short story The Cares of the Family Man, a strange animated object-creature who resides in the threshold area of the household. I argue that Odradek allegorically expresses a place of distortion, thus violence, in the socialising system in modernity and evokes the social criticism, especially a critique of humanism. Odradek has been variously discussed as a prototype of distortion, the remnant of an entity produced at a tangent to itself by the anthropocentric forces at work in forming the subject as well as history. Drawing on Freud’s idea of the uncanny and Adorno’s understanding of aesthetic experience, I argue that Odradek is both an allegorical expression and an allegorical experience of what makes social criticism possible when the individual entity is transformed into a transcendent social being. Freud’s idea of the dubious lures of narcissism of self-objectification has the capacity, here, to open up the self to space of reflection and observation. This object-creature, a doubling of the human, that signals the distortion fundamental to the socialising process, further prefigures the discourses on posthumanism in the postwar era, in which the idea of ‘human’ is contested and challenged interdisciplinarily.