“A Hunger Artist”
“A Hunger Artist” by Frank Kafka, translated to English by Willa and Edwin Muir, is a story of metaphors of art, suffering, and humanity. In this story, the Hunger Artist starves for forty days as a means of income for his display of his own suffering. The artist himself does not see this to be an act of self inflicted pain but rather a sense of peace for himself. The discipline applied to his art is what he explores through the audience for appreciation. The hunger artist himself, at least, seems to consider his fasting, a serious practice of self-denial rooted in masochism and suffering.
The basis of the story starts off with the explanation of the negative effects of industrialization and capitalism of the arts. Kafka writes the story about a fanatical starving artist who finds peace and gratification from starving himself. In his cramped cage, the Hunger Artist sits closely controlled and monitored by his peers with amazement of his artistic ability to starve himself on his own freewill. With nothing but a clock in his cage and some straw on the floor, he sits patiently staring at his audience watching him. The clock in his cage seems to be a symbol of time, which many people use to signify their schedule. For the Hunger Artist it is of no use to him, he will sit either way looking at nothing but his audience for forty days.
With total control over his starvation, his audience doubts his ability to truly starve. The Hunger Artist knows that although he is honest and true to his work, his peers can never truly understand his accomplishment. In representation of Kafka’s personal life, the Hunger Artist himself loses much of his freewill. In his time, professional fasting has lost its icon. Before, any Hunger Artist could manage their own performances but as the profession loses touch with spectators, management is required to help market and assemble audiences to attract attention. Instead of being able to display an...