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A Hunger Artist

A Hunger Artist

by Franz Kafka

Life, Consciousness and Existence Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

[…] 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?

Quote #2

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.

Quote #3

[…] he felt no limits to his ability to starve. (3)

The artist seems to get a huge boost to his self-esteem just thinking about how great he is at starving.

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