Short Story #8 – A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka

A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka can be found here http://www.kafka-online.info/a-hunger-artist.html

The Title sounds SO INTERESTING!

‘Professional fasting’? What! I absolutely love it when the first paragraph just draws you in completely! It sounds awfully barbaric though, and probably breaches some human rights. Permanent watchers, incase he somehow had a secret stash of food?!? What is this… Being hungry is a profession? What kind of world are they living in, and did this every happen in the ‘real’ world? ‘Impresario’? Apparently a person who puts on entertainment, certainly an impressive word. How long do they fast for, and more importantly are they getting paid for this and if so how much, but EVEN more importantly, WHY? The watchers then eat a huge breakfast in front of him, is this not torture?!? Apparently it is his ‘happiest moment’!!

People do this for 40 DAYS!!! Good thing the impersarios put a limit on it, even if for the wrong reasons. This sounds like the worst sort of thing ever. Sure they aren’t forced to do it, and it hints at them getting paid. But what makes someone decide to fast? And now the faster isn’t even happy doing it, and wants to do it for even longer! Then the public start to turn away from fasting, which is good, because why should people be interested in seeing a man starve (even if he wants to), if he doesn’t want to eat, that is his choice, but why would people want to see him do it, and buy photos of him so thin! In a way it is sad that the man now doesn’t know what to do, he thinks himself too old to find a new career (which is stupid) and there is not enough interest in him doing it ‘professionally’ and he is too proud to do it in small fairs. So he goes to a circus, and doesn’t read the FINE PRINT. One of the worst things a person can do. Sign a contract without realising what they are getting themselves into. I’m sure even today, people would be surprised what is actually contained in the legal fine print of all the products and agreements that we ‘accept’. The number of times that we just click the ‘accept’ button without reading the document is alarming, who knows what we are actually signing. And even if we do read it, we hardly understand through all the legal jargon and mumbo jumbo.

So he is put right next to the animals, treated like an animal! People just walk on past. It’s just plain old sad. He is fasting for week after week and no one even cares. Sure it is a strange concept and one that shouldn’t really go ahead but, he should get some recognition for what he is achieving. He is so close to death, and he apologizes! What an amazing (but strange) man. He apologizes because he can’t help but fast because he didn’t find any food that he liked. And so he was buried, and probably had no proper funeral or gravestone. He had no family, and couldn’t really have any friends. It is a sad, lonely life. He did something he love, but began to hate it, which is also sad.

I have to say that it is an amazing story. Especially because, it makes conflict within your own opinions. At first I thought what a stupid thing, why should he do this, someone should stop him. But then you start to feel for the man, who is doing his ‘job’ and doing something he wants to do, but is no longer having any recognition. It makes it difficult to actually decide whether he should have been allowed to fast or whether he should actually get recognition for something he shouldn’t really do. This is a seriously good short story, much better than nearly all of the 10 I have reviewed already (and as I don’t like to say this is the best or this is the worst, vagueness is as close as I get to awarding ‘the best’). A serious MUST READ, and I would seriously think it to be in one of the top 10 lists. Oh my, I just went on Wikipedia, and hunger artists, DID exist! This story is purely amazing, and I hope Franz Kafka’s other works are just as impressive, and I want to read more of his work!!

Short Story #9 will be another story by Franz Kafka (didn’t even realise that there were two stories by the same author), Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, if it is anything like A Hunger Artist then I look forward to reading it, it shall be amazing!

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