Franz Kafka - a Hunger Artist

Franz Kafka - a Hunger Artist

  • Submitted By: derya
  • Date Submitted: 12/18/2008 11:45 AM
  • Category: Book Reports
  • Words: 1279
  • Page: 6
  • Views: 1450


"I intend to transmit something which is untransmittable , I also intend to explain something that is unexplainable"(1)(my translation). It is a seemingly impossible challenge for a human being to achieve such a goal. If you wonder who this quote belongs to, the answer is simple: Franz Kafka, one of the greatest writers of German Literature. In his striking story, "A Hunger Artist", Kafka sets out towards this goal of trying to attain the unattainable by the use of a number of symbols. From individual to society, there are a number of central symbols within the story which are fasting, the cage, the butcher (spectators) and lastly the panther.

One of the main symbols, fasting, constitutes the basis of the story. All throughout the story, from the title to the last sentence, the reader is exposed to this particular symbol. Death, fighting with norms, being at the edge of living are some of the concepts that fasting stands for. Nevertheless, the chaotic nature of this term keeps the reader's mind busy throughout the reading process, even after done with reading. In addition to this; the hunger artist sees fasting as a " it was not the product of an autonomous choice , the force of the imperative to fast is quickly parodied by the explanation that the problem has arisen because it is impossible for him to find anything tasty to eat ."(2), since he does not find anything tasty to eat. The artist's lofty claim implies that every individual besides the fasting artist is ready to consume whatever that is put on their table. The word food may refer to any material in these individuals' life. We could include any choice they make in this, such as the shows they watch, the education they get, or the objects they are exposed to. That is to say, the fasting artist criticizes ordinary people in terms of their unselective attitudes.

For the artist himself, the act of fasting is a form of art,...

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