Hunger Artist Franz Kafka

2120 Words9 Pages
Starving for Art When examining artists from the past decade, one characteristic stands out above the rest: artists today are misunderstood. Whether it is Lady Gaga and her interesting choice of dress, the blatant stupidity of advertising, or someone’s opinion of the performing arts, artists tend to get frustrated with those who do not understand their ideas. In Franz Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist”, the Hunger Artist is an example of a misunderstood artist whose audience temporarily enjoys watching him go through the stages of fasting; however, they do not fully understand his reason for fasting. This societal aspect is what the Artist must put up with in order to maintain the attention of his audience. In Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist”, the Hunger Artist is alienated through the audience’s misunderstanding, the nature of his art, and his manager’s intentions for him. The Hunger Artist’s audience only takes a shallow interest in the artist: “for their [children’s] elders he was often just a joke that happened to be in fashion, but the children stood open-mouthed, holding each other’s hands for greater security, marveling at him” (Kafka 274). At first, the crowd is enthusiastic towards the incredible display of the Hunger Artist’s ability to fast for weeks on end, ask him questions, and feel the thinness of his limbs for themselves. This feeling of having the public interested keeps the Artist in the field of professional fasting. The spectators must conform to “[T]he hunger artist’s highly disciplined, honest respect for his craft” (Melchionne 144). The spectators are required to have three people keep watch over the Artist at night, “in case he should have some secret recourse to nourishment” (Kafka 274). He is not allowed to eat, because it would go against his whole practice of fasting. According to Kevin Melchionne, the Artist’s level of professionalism can be
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