© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
A Hunger Artist

A Hunger Artist


by Franz Kafka

A Hunger Artist Life, Consciousness and Existence Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph) We used Stanley Corngold's translation.

Quote #4

The manager […] raised his arms above the starvation artist as if inviting the heavens to look down at its handiwork, here on the straw, this pitiable martyr, which the starvation artist admittedly was, but in a quite different sense […] (3) [is his little meal some kind of communion? He must hate whatever it is they make him eat, since he doesn't find anything tasty]

Some more quasi-religious language here, with the manager staging the hunger artist as if he were some kind of "martyr," and the hunger artist's first meal after forty days of starving has echoes of other religiously significant meals, such as Passover or the Last Supper. The dramatic irony is that all of these religious aspects are staged by the manager to please the crowd. Typical Kafka: the narrator tells us that the artist is a martyr "in a quite different sense" – but doesn't tell us what this different sense is. It's a little infuriating, really.

Quote #5

[The manager] intending through exaggerated caution to produce a convincing impression of how fragile a creature he was […] (3)

In Quote 4, the manager emphasizes the artist as some kind of martyr, a spiritual being killed for his religious views, but here he shows off what a "creature" he is.

Quote #6

[…] his legs, from an instinct of self-preservation, pressed themselves tightly against each other at the knees […] (3)

Despite himself, the artist can't control his body's "instinct of self-preservation"; mind does not triumph over matter.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...