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.
[…] there were also permanent watchmen, chosen by the public – oddly enough, usually butchers – whose job it was, always three at a time, to watch the starvation artist day and night […] (2)
The watchmen seem almost priest-like in the way they attend to the artist. But then again, they're butchers – ironic, since the man they're watching is starving himself. And why butchers? What is it about the hunger artist's performance that requires watchmen skilled in slaughter and slicing up meat?
Experience had proven that for about forty days, through gradually intensified publicity, you could go on stimulating a city's interest, but beyond that time there was no audience […] (3)
The "forty days" carries a possible echo of the temptation of Jesus in the New Testament, which also took forty days. But the forty days in Kafka's story refers to a marketing principle, at least for the profit-hungry manager – surely an ironic jab at any attempt at turning Kafka's story into a religious parable.