In "A Hunger Artist", Kafka comments on the life of the modern artist through the life of a hunger artist. Kafka comments that the modern artist is always dissatisfied with his or her art. The modern artist also is trapped in a harsh and capricious world, in which the artist struggles to maintain his or her audience by pushing the extreme, but are cheated because they do not receive his or her recognition. Finally, in "A Hunger Artist" Kafka refers to the modern artist's struggle between the need for fame and the need for isolation. As a modern artist, Kafka has experienced the qualities that characterize the modern artist and his experiences have greatly influenced his work, particularly "A Hunger Artist".
The modern artist, as seen with the hunger artist, will always have dissatisfaction with his or her art. The hunger artist was dissatisfied with his work because he was dissatisfied with himself. He was dissatisfied because fasting was easy for him. Although he reveled to the world his secret, the world did not understand him and some even had the "imprudence" to call him a cheat. The hunger artist was also dissatisfied because he wanted to fast for more than forty days, but the impresario refused. Critic Frederick Karl remarks that the hunger artist could only find satisfaction when he achieves purification the closer he comes to the fine line when life and death touch.i[i] Kafka, a modern artist, was dissatisfied with his works. He attempted to achieve purification and perfection through a strict diet and lifestyle, but he failed to make his writings perfect and demanded that his works be burned after he died.ii[ii]
According to Kafka,...
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...position in society. The modern artist is an outsider, or rather, a joke that "happened to be in fashion". The artist is doomed to rejection and isolation by a harsh and capricious world.
i Karl, Frederick. Franz Kafka: Representative Man. New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1991.
ii Updike, John. Foreword to Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories. New York: Schoken Books, 1971.
iii Winkler, R.O.C.. Twentieth Century Literary Criticism Vol. 2. New York: Gale Research, 1981
iv Karl, Frederick. Franz Kafka: Representative Man. New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1991.
v Karl, Frederick. Franz Kafka: Representative Man. New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1991.
vi Karl, Frederick. Franz Kafka: Representative Man. New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1991.
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