A hunger artist text. A Summary and Analysis of Franz Kafka’s ‘A Hunger Artist’ 2022-10-19
A hunger artist text
A Hunger Artist is a short story written by Franz Kafka in 1922. The story follows the titular character, a performer who specializes in fasting for extended periods of time. The hunger artist is known for his ability to go without food for long periods of time, and he becomes famous for it. However, despite his fame and success, the hunger artist is unhappy and unfulfilled.
The hunger artist spends his days on stage, locked inside a small cage where he is exhibited to the public. People come to see him, marveling at his ability to go without food for so long. The hunger artist is a skilled performer, and he is able to maintain his fasts for many days, sometimes even weeks. Despite this, he is not able to find satisfaction in his work. He feels that his audience does not truly understand or appreciate the art of fasting, and he becomes increasingly disillusioned and unhappy.
One of the main themes of the story is the idea of authenticity and the search for meaning. The hunger artist is unable to find satisfaction in his work because he feels that his audience does not understand or appreciate the true nature of his art. He is also unable to find satisfaction in his personal life, as he is isolated and alone in his cage. In this way, the hunger artist becomes a symbol for the human condition, and the story serves as a commentary on the search for meaning and authenticity in life.
Another important theme in the story is the concept of control and the role of the artist in society. The hunger artist is locked inside a small cage, controlled by the circus owner and the audience. He is unable to escape this control, and this ultimately leads to his unhappiness and dissatisfaction. The story suggests that the artist is at the mercy of the audience and is unable to control his own destiny.
Overall, A Hunger Artist is a thought-provoking and poignant story that explores themes of authenticity, control, and the search for meaning. Kafka's writing is poetic and evocative, and the story serves as a powerful commentary on the human condition.
A Hunger Artist Study Guide
For meanwhile the aforementioned change in public interest had set in; it seemed to happen almost overnight; there may have been profound causes for it, but who was going to bother about that; at any rate the pampered hunger artist suddenly found himself deserted on fine day by the amusement-seekers, who went streaming past him to other more-favored attractions. Indeed, he even affirmed that if people would let him do what he wanted—and he was promised this without further ado—he would really now legitimately amaze the world for the first time, an assertion which, however, given the mood of the time, something the hunger artist in his enthusiasm easily overlooked, only brought smiles from the experts. And if a good-natured man who felt sorry for him ever wanted to explain to him that his sadness probably came from his fasting, then it could happen that the hunger artist responded with an outburst of rage and began to shake the bars like an animal, frightening everyone. This work is in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927. He had been applauded by thousands in his time and could hardly come down to showing himself in a street booth at village fairs, and as for adopting another profession, he was not only too old for that but too fanatically devoted to fasting. But nonetheless they stood by their suspicions.
A Summary and Analysis of Franz Kafka’s ‘A Hunger Artist’
But his happiest moment was when the morning came and an enormous breakfast was brought for them, at his expense , on which they flung themselves with the keen appetite of healthy men after a weary night of wakefulness. Still dedicated to his art, the hunger artist parts ways with his manager and joins the circus—not even bothering to look at his contract. The hunger artist also feels constrained by the fasting limits imposed on him. For, in fact, no one was in a position to spend time watching the hunger artist every day and night without interruption, so no one could know, on the basis of his own observation, whether this was a case of truly continuous, flawless fasting. Then came the meal. What was the hunger artist to do now? The impresario came forward, without a word—for the band made speech impossible—lifted his arms in the air above the artist, as if inviting Heaven to look down upon this creature here in the straw, this suffering martyr , which indeed he was, although in quite another sense; grasped him around the emaciated waist, with exaggerated caution, so that the frail condition he was in might be appreciated; and committed him to the care of the blenching ladies, not without secretly giving him a shaking so that his legs and body tottered and swayed.
A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka
But they controlled themselves, kept pressing around the cage, and had no desire at all to move on. He could have kept going for even longer, for an unlimited length of time. Puppet Design by Charlie Kanev. They would perhaps have remained with him longer, if those pushing up behind them in the narrow passage way, who did not understand this pause on the way to the animal stalls they wanted to see, had not made a longer peaceful observation impossible. From there he would move on to speak about the equally hard to understand claim of the hunger artist that he could go on fasting for much longer than he was doing.
A Hunger Artist
This lack of respect for his art torments the hunger artist, depresses him and generally makes his starvation much more difficult. People got used to the strange notion that in these times they would want to pay attention to a hunger artist, and with this habitual awareness the judgment on him was pronounced. The impresario whom we might liken to the magazine editor, book publisher, theatre manager, etc. If he kept going and kept fasting longer, why would they not tolerate it? Then a toast was proposed to the public, which was supposedly whispered to the impresario by the hunger artist, the orchestra confirmed everything with a great fanfare, people dispersed, and no one had the right to be dissatisfied with the event, no one except the hunger artist—he was always the only one. Once the large crowds had passed, the late comers would arrive, and although there was nothing preventing these people any more from sticking around for as long as they wanted, they rushed past with long strides, almost without a sideways glance, to get to the animals in time. But the impresario had a way of punishing moments like this, something he was happy to use. There is also some truth to the story itself: hunger artistry was a genuine phenomenon that once drew large crowds, peaking in popularity in the 1880s.
A Hunger Artist Themes
Much more to his taste were the watchers who sat close up to the bars, who were not content with the dim night lighting of the hall but focused him in the full glare of the electric pocket torch given them by the impresario. Finally the hunger artist is free to take his art as far he has always wanted. What was a result of the premature ending of the fast people were now proposing as its cause! He had a relatively isolated upbringing as his parents worked long hours away from home, often leaving the young Kafka in the care of governesses and servants. The hunger artist asks to be forgiven, explaining that he has wanted only to be admired by everyone. With such observers, he was very happily prepared to spend the entire night without sleeping. He lived this way, taking small regular breaks, for many years, apparently in the spotlight, honoured by the world, but for all that his mood was usually gloomy, and it kept growing gloomier all the time, because no one understood how to take him seriously. Many days went by once more, and this, too, came to an end.
A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka : Franz Kafka : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
When those who had witnessed such scenes thought back on them a few years later, often they were unable to understand themselves. And when once in a while a person strolling past stood there making fun of the old number and talking of a swindle, that was in a sense the stupidest lie which indifference and innate maliciousness could invent, for the hunger artist was not being deceptive—he was working honestly—but the world was cheating him of his reward. Eventually, people lose interest in watching the hunger artist at work altogether. He would make an apology for the hunger artist to the assembled public, conceding that the irritability had been provoked only by his fasting, something quite intelligible to well-fed people and capable of excusing the behaviour of the hunger artist without further explanation. But the reason he was never satisfied was something different. Kafka did not live on his own until the age of 31. And he looked up into the eyes of these women, apparently so friendly but in reality so cruel, and shook his excessively heavy head on his feeble neck.
A Hunger Artist: Themes
These warders can hardly contain their hunger as they devour their breakfasts, thus helping the hunger artist demonstrate his superior ability to fast. True, he would entrust his bony arms to the outstretched helping hands of the ladies bending over him, but stand up he would not. About this he did not remain silent, but people did not believe him. Even for a person with the dullest mind it was clearly refreshing to see this wild animal throwing itself around in this cage, which had been dreary for such a long time. Unfailingly, the hunger artist objects, and the impresario intrudes to make a show of how frail the hunger artist has become. But that was of little use; they only wondered at his cleverness in being able to fill his mouth even while singing. In good faith he always listened eagerly to the impresario at the bars of his cage, but each time, once the photographs came out, he would let go of the bars and, with a sigh, sink back into the straw, and a reassured public could come up again and view him.
A Hunger Artist: Character List
The honour of his art forbade it. It was as if a secret agreement against the fasting performances had really developed everywhere. Perhaps, the hunger artist said to himself sometimes, everything would be a little better if his location were not quite so near the animal stalls. Then, too, he was tired and felt good sitting in the straw. Those were different times. As time goes on, the crowds in various cities and countries lose interest in watching the hunger artist, and fewer people stop to watch him in his cage: most continue straight on past him towards the animals, which they wish to watch instead.
A Hunger Artist: Full Book Summary
And there were even viewing hours at night, their impact heightened by torchlight. Naturally, the truth is that it could not have happened so quickly, and people later remembered some things which in the days of intoxicating success they had not paid sufficient attention to, some inadequately suppressed indications, but now it was too late to do anything to counter them. As a result of spending so much time with the hunger artist, the impresario likely knows him better than anyone else. They made his fasting terribly difficult. The further the hunger artist goes in pursuit of perfection, as he does in the circus, the further away he moves from the understanding of the people for whom he performs.
It was the easiest thing in the world. This was also the reason why the hunger artist began to tremble at these visiting hours, which he naturally used to long for as the main purpose of his life. But in his cage they put a young panther. And if a good-natured man who felt sorry for him ever wanted to explain to him that his sadness probably came from his fasting, then it could happen that the hunger artist responded with an outburst of rage and began to shake the bars like an animal, frightening everyone. In good faith he always listened eagerly to the impresario at the bars of his cage, but each time, once the photographs came out, he would let go of the bars and, with a sigh, sink back into the straw, and a reassured public could come up again and view him.