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In "A Hunger Artist," suggest reasons why Kafka selected an expert in fasting and not a...

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happyangel4real | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted October 9, 2010 at 1:30 AM via web

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In "A Hunger Artist," suggest reasons why Kafka selected an expert in fasting and not a priest or a singer as the central figure in the story.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 9, 2010 at 1:56 AM (Answer #1)

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Franz Kafka's "A Hunger Artist" is a metaphor for the yearning and alienation we all experience, to some extent.  A priest or a singer or a painter or a sculptor or an author might just as easily have worked for the theme; however, those professions would probably not have carried the metaphor as well as does a hunger artist.  He is both something rare (an artist) and something familiar (one who does and then doesn't eat).  He is like the rest of us yet separated from us.  The metaphor is complete when, as he is dying, the Hunger Artist explains his consistent dissatisfaction and alienation from life:

I have to fast, I can’t help it...because I couldn’t find the food I liked. If I had found it, believe me, I should have made no fuss and stuffed myself like you or anyone else.

I just don't see how that works with a priest or a singer--who might not find a song he likes but can then make up his own song--because food is something the human body needs for sustenance.  By cutting himself off from the life-giving substance, the Hunger Artist lives in alienation, yearning, and dissatisfaction.

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