A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka

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(Short Stories for Students)

Hunger Artist
This story is told primarily from the perspective of the main character, known only as a ‘‘hunger artist,’’ a world-famous performer, the ‘‘record hunger artist of all time.’’ He travels the world, ‘‘performing’’ his fasts publicly, as a form of mass entertainment. Although the best of the best, the hunger artist continues to be unsatisfied with his performances. Even at the height of his career, he feels that his ‘‘work’’ is never adequately appreciated by his audience, who fail to recognize his true potential. Furthermore, he feels thwarted in his efforts to break his own records, by both the attention span of the public and by the promotional strategies of his impresario (manager). His personal frustrations with his audience and his own ‘‘work’’ are expressive of those felt by many types of artists, who often see their audiences as unable to appreciate their true talent. As the hunger artist ages, his ‘‘art’’ goes out of vogue, and he is relegated to an insignificant space in a circus, where he is eventually forgotten by the...

(The entire section is 355 words.)