A Hunger Artist

Art Versus Life in A Hunger Artist

In his short story "A Hunger Artist," Franz Kafka uses the extreme example of the fictional hunger artist to discuss the dichotomy between art and life. Usually, an artist uses his life to create his art. Thus, an artist alienated from the world will use his art to represent alienation, which ironically might bring him closer to the world. Kafka did this by writing about his sentiments of isolation and frustrations with society in stories such as "The Metamorphosis" and his novel The Trial. By writing these stories, Kafka expressed some of his disappointment with the world, and leaves it to his audience to analyze them as such. In this cycle, the artist channels his problems into art to manage his difficulties, and the audience accepts the art, providing the artist social acceptance and relief from solitude.

Kafka sheds light on this healthy cycle by portraying the production of art in "A Hunger Artist," in which the artist's creation of art does not lead to a positive cycle, because his suffering begets suffering. His desire to be an artist is explained via "his inner dissatisfaction" (246) with the world. The hunger artist does not starve himself because he believes starvation to be...

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