“A Hunger Artist”- Franz Kafka

This 6-pager story written in 1922, is about the struggle of an artist to promote his art when it has failed the test of time and the fickle attention of masses.

 The consummate profession, preceded by the preposition ‘A’ in the title,  solely defines the nameless and characterless protagonist and finally consumes him. Fasting is the only art the protagonist knows and proffers, not for a cause but for the mere entertainment of his spectators.  His main ambition is to rise to fame by breaking all fasting records but ironically it is not fame but death that embraces him there and no one even bothers to count his days on fast. His main spectators are butchers who stay overnight just to gorge on free breakfast the next day. Who would like to see a starving emaciated caged man anyways?

In a classic Kafka style, the protagonist is kept in a cage and later the cage is kept in a zoo where the audience prefers menagerie over him. Also as life reins over death and in Kafka style, as animals rein over humans, in the end a restless panther supplants his lifeless form and gets more attention from the crowd.

In this story, Kafka mainly depicts the suffering of artists, cruelty and fickleness of masses, human resistance to change, futility of groundless ambitions. Of course there can be many metaphorical interpretations of the story as well. One possible metaphor could be how machines have totally supplanted humans and animals could be of more use than humans as in cars and bullock-carts have
supplanted man-pullers.


A dreamer. An intellectual, spoiled by the world of literature trying to find sanity through traveling and expression through Visual Art and writing! Hope you like my expressions on this blog!!

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Posted in Book Review
11 comments on ““A Hunger Artist”- Franz Kafka
  1. jasmine says:

    Interestingly relevant to read about today with Ramdev’s fast in the background.
    You make me want to read this story!

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