A Hunger Artist


Franz Kafka

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Themes and Colors
The Artist and Society Theme Icon
The Meaning of Existence Theme Icon
Art, Entertainment, and Capitalism Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Hunger Artist, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Artist and Society

“A Hunger Artist” examines the relationship between the artist, their art, and the society in which that art is received. Though the artist in this case—whose act is simply the ability to fast—has a pure vision of his “craft,” he can only display his art within the context of an audience that frequently misunderstands and mistrusts him. While art is often held up as being something that “holds a mirror to society”—forcing society to recognize…

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The Meaning of Existence

“A Hunger Artist” is a deeply philosophical text that is a prime example of Kafka’s overall approach to his literature. As with many of his other stories, interpretations of the text vary widely, and for good reason: Kafka deliberately creates tales that are almost fable-like, except that, unlike the typical fable that has a clear moral, the “point” of Kafka’s stories are rarely obvious. For Kafka, life is a set of unresolvable questions, and no…

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Art, Entertainment, and Capitalism

The hunger artist’s refusal to do anything other than his art is a rejection of capitalist ideals: he refuses to have a job, to engage with money, or to consume. But, of course, this is not as simple as it sounds. Though he might have rejected the most immediate interactions with capitalism, and is literally barred within his cage from the rest of the world, the hunger artist is still very much under society’s…

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