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by Franz Kafka, Sheba Blake


A Hunger Artist Franz Kafka - Kafka wrote "Hunger Artist" as he was starving to death. He suffered from a bad case of laryngeal tuberculosis that made eating too painful. As the condition worsened his throat closed and doctors had no way to feed him. He was 40 when he died."Hunger Artist" has a bitter irony feel to it. Like Metamorphosis, it deals with feelings of alienation, isolation and withdrawal. Of course with Kafka there is always the initiation of something extremely unusual, and that's no different here.Strangely as it may seem, as we are dealing with a man inside a cage, it's a spiritual freedom that reverberates through out the story. The artist is melancholic, not because he does not eat, but because he is continuously tempted to abandon his fasting and to accept the very food he tries to evade.He evaluates everything on deeper levels, like a psychologist mainlining his subconscious mind. He creates a tone that plays havoc with your thought process where he invites us to see art in a darker shade of gray, to consider the relationship between art and authenticity.The protagonist experiences the decline in appreciation of his craft, an individual marginalized by society at large. The short story explores themes such as art, isolation, asceticism, spiritual poverty, futility, personal failure and the corruption of human relationships.Kafka is thought to have been inspired to write his tale by a Giovanni Succi, a professional faster who amazed crowds across Europe around the turn of the century with his stoic refusal of food for as many as 40 days.

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