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.
"Forgive me, all of you," the starvation artist whispered. (9)
There may be an echo here of Jesus' words both at the Last Supper and at his crucifixion; in the New Testament, his death is the sacrifice that ensures the forgiveness of all men's sins. In Kafka's story, the hunger artist begs forgiveness for, it seems, subjecting others to his performance. But judging from the circus manager's indifference, it doesn't seem like there's anything to forgive, which makes the artist's request for forgiveness seem absurd.
Into the cage they put a young panther […] he did not even seem to miss his freedom; this noble body, equipped just short of bursting with everything it needed, seemed to carry its freedom around with it […] (10)
Ironically, the artist is replaced by a panther. But whether this panther is really a different spectacle is up for grabs. He may be an expression of "life" and "freedom," but like the artist, he is caged, and no (human) spectator understands the panther.