Many people agree that A Hunger Artist is one of the best works of Kafka and one of the greatest and perfectly written short stories, which was first published in 1922. Basically, this literary piece explores some of the most famous Kafka’s themes, including isolation, death, asceticism, art, futility, personal issues, corruption, and many others. Many critics claim that this work is quite autobiographical and they view it as a certain depiction of the alienation and isolation of modern artists.
The story of A Hunger Artist is told readers retrospectively and it looks a few decades back and it tells them about a professional hunger artist who can fast for long days. He performs in a special cage surrounded by many people and attended by the team of watchers whose basic responsibility is to ensure that this artist doesn’t eat anything secretly. Many people are sure that he cheats them, but their suspicions only annoy him, so he decides to fast for 40 days.
There are many major themes described by Kafka in this book, and readers should focus on a sharp division among its critical interpretations. Most of them claim that this famous story is just an allegory, and they also disagree as to what it’s represented. Some of them highlight the asceticism of the hunger artist and regard him as a saint figure. They support their opinion by his unworldliness, watchers’ quality, and other similar aspects.
Other critics keep insisting that this story is an allegory of some misunderstood artist with his personal vision of artistic excellence and transcendence that is rejected and ignored by the audience. This interesting interpretation is often joined with reading this book as being autobiographical. According to this popular opinion, the whole story is written near the end of the life of Kafka, so it links the hunger artist and the author.
Regardless of whether the main character is seen as artistic or spiritual, the leopard is considered as his antithesis as being contented and satisfied. The corporeality of the animal stands in the contrast to the ethereality of the hunger artist in this book. In addition, a final interpretive division is about the problem of whether this plot was meant to be ironical for readers. Some critics claim that the whole story is the sympathetic depiction of the misunderstood artist who wants to rise above others, while others think that it’s an ironic comment of Kafka on artistic pretensions.
Many people agree that A Hunger Artist is one of the best works of Kafka and one of the greatest and perfectly written short stories, which was first published in 1922. Basically, this literary piece explores some of the most famous Kafka’s themes, including isolation, death, asceticism, art, futility, personal issues, corruption, and many others.