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A Hunger Artist

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  5,969 ratings  ·  177 reviews
The last book published during Kafka's lifetime, A Hunger Artist (1924) explores many of the themes that were close to him: spiritual poverty, asceticism, futility, and the alienation of the modern artist. He edited the manuscript just before his death, and these four stories are some of his best known and most powerful work, marking his maturity as a writer. In addition t ...more
Hardcover, Kafka's Short Prose, 84 pages
Published January 15th 1996 by Twisted Spoon Press (first published February 9th 1924)
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78th out of 410 books — 345 voters
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6th out of 15 books — 31 voters

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Community Reviews

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Petra X smokin' hot
What he did for fame. What he did to prove himself. How some people take things to extremes and then find the thing itself has taken them over. How pointless it is to die for some petty thing. How perhaps the clarity of imminent mortality makes the protagonist confess the true reason for his self-starvation. If he did, if it was.

Or if it was really about that at all, or was it really about the existential pleasure of living for the day and enjoying what there is? Or perhaps it was about if a tr
Huda Yahya

I am too overwhelmed to write , for i AM the hunger artist !
It's like watching yourself , your life , your decisions ,and above all your DEATH !
This is how i visioned my death ! I just didn't have any idea that another person knew how exactly it's going to be !
Kafka creeps the hell outta me . Seriously !
When I was born, I started to learn the tricks of the world.

I did everything I was asked to do.

I did years of schooling.

I was asked to take a paying degree of engineering, I did it.

I was told that management is "THE" thing for the future and that's where the big bucks are. I did that too.

But somewhere down the line I lost track of myself.

What will happen if someday everything I did looses its relevance?

What will I do? Will I panic. Yes, sure.

But what will the future hold for me then?

How wil
This is a collection of four short stories, at least three of which concern performance art. These four are also included in some version of The Metamorphosis.

The First Sorrow

This tells of a trapeze artist so dedicated to his art, that he lives for and on his trapeze. Travel is torturous because he has to come down (though for longer journeys, he goes by train and lies in the overhead luggage rack!).

Voyeurism often features tangentially in Kafka's works (and sometimes explicitly), but that is no
I always try to view a piece of art as abstract and intricate as the soul of its creator. Judging it by its surface would be like judging a person by their appearance, an opinion biased to its very core. Worshiping it according to its fame or its signature is discrimination against Art in its purest sense. I honestly have no idea where my thoughts will lead me. I know though that feelings are submerging me right now and I feel shrouded by the sight of this hunger artist. He was a master in the a ...more
Jan Rice
I have a Kafka deficit.

I suddenly became aware of it. So when I saw a review of a very short short story of his I decided to read it--easily done since it's online.

I didn't read anything else about it first that would explain it or tell me what it was supposed to mean. Sometime recently, though, I did read something about Kafka. I thought it was The New Yorker, but according to Google they haven't published any Kafka articles since January, and it wasn't that long ago. It was something about hi
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The Hunger Artist here is a symbol alright, but a symbol of what, your guess is probably as good as mine. As portrayed, he is somewhat like a modern magician of stunts, David Blaine-like, displayed in public, but all he does is not to eat. In the old days he enjoyed fame, people liked him and respected his profession a lot but now he is no longer a star.

Maybe he is a symbol for old-fashioned virtue. Or for people like monks, priests, nuns or saints for many of the things Kafka said of the Hunger
Dear this book,

It's not you, it's me. I just hate you a lot. I hate you so much that it probably comes from some deep-down place where I actually hate myself for not being able to understand why people have been throwing this dang story at me with regularly repeating intervals for the past ten years. Maybe it's because each time I'm handed a dog-eared copy, I wake up the next morning with a red-wine hangover, draped in someone else's cardigan, because you actually, literally smell like patchoul
Vipassana Vijayarangan
Jan 20, 2015 Vipassana Vijayarangan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: philosophy, fiction
This is a tiny story and I'd recommend that everyone read it. Think about your hunger. Do you starve yourself for lack of nutrition or do you poison yourself with what you are given? Do you choke your children with your own inadequacy and suffocate those try to live consciously?

In the moments when one is faced with something intense, it is easy to get overwhelmed. But take twenty minutes, read this story and answer your questions.
Victoria Thompson
It's life. All of us are in the cage, trying to be and do something that makes no sense and that leads only to death. Everyone else is our audience and our tormenters.
Artists suffer for their craft only to be misunderstood and unappreciated in their time. This story reminded me of how many modern musicians are told what to and how to perform to be as appealing to as broad a audience as possible. Marketing driving art and in so doing making a lie and mockery of the artist.

"What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music.... And people fl
[There are a few spoilers throughout this review] This is likely my most valued short story of all time. The symbolism in this story is somewhat hidden, but if you're looking for it, it's right there in front of you. I remember hearing others talk about the story, and oftentimes they focused too much on the character and not enough on his mission. Yes, he is used as a man who starves himself literally throughout the story, but readers must ask themselves, is it really food that the hunger artist ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I thought I’d seen enough strangeness in Kafka’s world in Metamorphosis and The Trial then I came upon this story. What is it about Kafka and twisted POVs and realities? Just imagine: a man doing a 40-day fast, in a cage, with people coming – and paying – to see him literally starve. I’d rather watch Samsa turn into a bug (I can see the computer geniuses over at Pixar doing a CG version of that) than see this supposed-to-be artist waste away before my very eyes, and do it voluntarily, with an at ...more
Dina Hady
قصة قصيرة للغاية ، أقصر مما ينبغي للأثر الذي تحدثه بك، تقرؤها و يزداد إضطرابك فهي قصة مثيرة للإضطراب كبطلها، الذي لا تهدأ نفسه و لا يجد السلوى في ، نجاحٍ أو فشل بل في الفناء ذاته.
تدفعك لأسئلة لا تبغي مواجهتها..هل فعل ما فعله ليحوز الإعجاب؟ هل فقد هدفه هو نفسه بإنحسار إعجاب الناس به.. كم من الأشياء تفعل لتنال الأهتمام،الإعجاب،الفخر بنفسك؟ و هل مصدر فخرك بنفسك الأخرين أو نفسك؟هل ضيع الفنان فنّه هباءا؟ هل كان فنانا أصلا ...إنه يقوّض الأمر برمته حين يخبرنا أنه ليس فنا و لكنه فقط لم يرد شيئا ..إنه ز
Bill S.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
دقیقا یادم نیست چندمین داستان کوتاهی بود که ترجمه کردم شاید چهارمی ولی خوب یادمه وقتم خیلی کم بود خلاصه با کلی بد بختی چهار پنج روزه تموم شد.وقتی تموم شد کلی ذوق کردم کلی قیافه گرفتم :)) انقد جو داستانه منو گرفته بود که خودمم یواش یواش داشتم شکل یارو هنرمنده خل و چله می شدم از بس غذا نخورده بودم :))ولی هیچ وقت یادم نمیره روزی که ترجممو با چه ذوقی دادم دست استاد.استاده یه نگایی کردو گفت به به این ترجمه ماله کیه زحمت کشیده واقعا!! بعد دست کرد از کیفش یه کتاب دراورد "مجموعه داستانهای کافکا" به فارس ...more
One of my favorite Kafka stories because it is short and to the point! This is he story of the man's experiences of being a side-show act. He talks about the people who did not beleive that he was starving and what he did to prove them wrong. It tells his motivation for being a hunger artist. It made me hungry so I made a sandwich. It was the best sandwich I ever ate.
Kafkas stories have never disappointed me.
It represents the typical Kafka in all one but one. At least, in this story the wrecked man finds a desired end. This story, too, has all elements that are trademark of Kafka. There is a man who fails to understand why he is there at all, is stuck and can find no way out of it and silently accepts his circumstances without much protest.

It is a story of a hunger artist, people who fast for a public spectacle. This story develops in the times when the passion for the hunger artists is on the decl
I stand amazed. A story that is both absurd and moving. The hunger artist is a figure who has trouble existing in the modern world, and the hunger is a loose metaphor. Captures all the themes of failure, futility, alienation and the spiritual poverty of the world. A story that I can empathise with and will continue to haunt me.
Dayanira Reyes
I'm just so glad for this story and for Kafka to achieve his permanence in some of the people in this world. I'm glad that he opened a little space for us people who loves the art of the untouchable, unseeable, and the undiscovered. It is a fine story, a Kafka's best.
Johnny D
I finished off an entire bag of rippled sour cream and onion chips while I read this story.

I probably should have abstained from that while reading about an ascetic who performs for the people by denying himself food. Of course, the chips were delicious, and I was rather hungry. The entire concept of not eating only served to make me hungrier. I believe that I made myself a large plate of spaghetti about an hour after I finished reading the story.

I am currently working on a short story concept t
El cuento empieza cuando ya la figura del artista está en decadencia (el artista del hambre, se entiende, no se confunda con cualquier otro artista). Su espectáculo consiste en ayunar delante de los espectadores, pero ya a nadie le interesa su arte. Al final nadie lo recuerda, pero el sigue ayunando, en un rincón, olvidado de todos, fiel a sí mismo. Algunos lo han comparado a un asceta, estoico o necio, qué más da.
Es el fiel retrato de un artista, pues para serlo no se depende del gusto del públ
This is one that I definitely need to read again - there are so many undercurrents of emotional statement going on in the book, that I think there's no possible way I could have caught all of them. It does make you think - the more I read of Kafka, the more I realize what a different level of genius he was.

I agree with one of the reviews below that says he fills a certain sort of unnamed void - he leaves me wondering what I have truly considered, instead of what I have only assumed I have fully
First Kafka read and I am delighted. The metaphorical essence of the story is quite interesting.
Rachel Jackson
Sometimes when I read stories, or watch videos, or listen to music, I wonder how the creator managed to think of that particular story or melody, and I think Haven't we used up all the original ideas in the world yet? Franz Kafka's "A Hunger Artist" was written almost a century ago, but after reading it I am fairly sure I can still answer that question: Nope. Not even close.

"A Hunger Artist" was one of the most bizarre, most twisted story I've ever read — and that's my favorite "type" of story.
Viji Sarath (Bookish endeavors)
I read the story with a sense of despair that I usually feel when I read Kafka. You can't read his works without a sigh,right? A hunger artist is a character strange enough for me,but that's not uncommon with Kafka. His passion to starve or rather his passion to show it to people was described in a good way,even though I couldn't make any sense of those things. I couldn't get any enlightenment if there was any such thing in it. What I liked is the writing style. And that itself qualify for 4 sta ...more
after reading other authors, some of them great ones, others not so much.. every time i come back to Kafka's works, it's like coming back home from a long journey. Thx Franz Kafka.
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Franz Kafka (German pronunciation: [ˈfʀants ˈkafka]) was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. He was born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary. His unique body of writing—much of which is incomplete and which was mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western lite ...more
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“This perversion of the truth, familiar to the artist though it was, always unnerved him afresh and proved too much for him. What was a consequence of the premature ending of his fast was here presented as the cause of it! To fight against this lack of understanding, against a whole world of nonunderstanding, was impossible.” 15 likes
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