A Hunger Artist

( 2 )


The last book published during Kafka's lifetime, A Hunger Artist (1924) explores many of the themes that were close to him: spiritual poverty, asceticism, futility, and the alienation of the modern artist. He edited the manuscript just before his death, and these four stories are some of his best known and most powerful work, marking his maturity as a writer. In addition to "First Sorrow," "A Little Woman," and "Josephine, the Singer," is the title story, "A Hunger Artist," which has been called by the critic ...
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The Hunger Artist

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The last book published during Kafka's lifetime, A Hunger Artist (1924) explores many of the themes that were close to him: spiritual poverty, asceticism, futility, and the alienation of the modern artist. He edited the manuscript just before his death, and these four stories are some of his best known and most powerful work, marking his maturity as a writer. In addition to "First Sorrow," "A Little Woman," and "Josephine, the Singer," is the title story, "A Hunger Artist," which has been called by the critic Heinz Politzer "a perfection, a fatal fulfillment that expresses Kafka's desire for permanence."

The three volumes Twisted Spoon has published: Contemplation, A Country Doctor, and A Hunger Artist represent the collections of stories that Kafka had published during his lifetime. Though each volume has its own distinctive character, they have most often appeared in English in collected editions. They are presented here as separate editions, in new translations, each with its own illustrator from the Prague community.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kafka's sirens are silent. Perhaps for Kafka music and singing are an expression or at least a token of escape, a token of hope which comes to us from that intermediate world - at once unfinished and commonplace, comforting and silly - in which the assistants are at home. Kafka is like the lad who set out to learn what fear was. He has got into Potemkin's palace and finally, in the depths of its cellar, has encountered Josephine, the singing mouse ..." -- Walter Benjamin
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451540864
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/12/2010
  • Pages: 26
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka (3 July 1883 - 3 June 1924) was a culturally influential German-language novelist. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century.


Franz Kafka was born in 1883 to a well-to-do middle-class Jewish family. His father, the self-made proprietor of a wholesale haberdashery business, was a domineering man whose approbation Franz continually struggled to win. The younger Kafka's feelings of inadequacy and guilt form the background of much of his work and are made explicit in his "Letter to His Father" (excerpted in this volume), which was written in 1919 but never sent.

Kafka was educated in the German language schools of Prague and at the city's German University, where in 1908 he took a law degree. Literature, however, remained his sole passion. At this time he became part of a literary circle that included Franz Werfel, Martin Buber, and Kafka's close friend Max Brod. Encouraged by Brod, Kafka published the prose collection Observations in 1913. Two years later his story "The Stoker" won the Fontaine prize. In 1916 he began work on The Trial and between this time and 1923 produced three incomplete novels as well as numerous sketches and stories. In his lifetime some of his short works did appear: The Judgment (1916), The Metamorphosis (1916), The Penal Colony (1919), and The Country Doctor (1919).

Before his death of tuberculosis in 1924, Kafka had charged Max Brod with the execution of his estate, ordering Brod to burn the manuscripts. With the somewhat circular justification that Kafka must have known his friend could not obey such an order, Brod decided to publish Kafka's writings. To this act of "betrayal" the world owes the preservation of some of the most unforgettable and influential literary works of our century.

Biography courtesy of BN.com

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    1. Date of Birth:
      July 3, 1883
    2. Place of Birth:
      Prague, Austria-Hungary
    1. Date of Death:
      June 3, 1924
    2. Place of Death:
      Vienna, Austria
    1. Education:
      German elementary and secondary schools. Graduated from German Charles-Ferdinand University of Prague.

Read an Excerpt

From A Little Woman: She is a little woman; quite slim by nature, she is tightly bound; I always see her in the same dress, it is made from a yellowish gray fabric that in a certain way resembles the color of wood, and is decorated with tassels or certain buttonlike fringes of the same color; she never wears a hat, her dull blond hair is smooth and not messy, although she wears it very loosely. Although she is tightly bound, she is quite flexible, and she exaggerates this flexibility; she likes to put her hands on her hips, and, surprisingly quickly, turn her upper body sideways with a single movement. I can only reproduce the impression that her hand makes on me by saying that I have never seen a hand in which the fingers are as sharply divided from one another as hers. However, her hand is in no way an anatomical peculiarity; it is a completely normal hand.

This little woman is very unhappy with me, there is always something about me that she finds objectionable, some injustice is always being done to her because of me, I annoy her at every step; if it were possible to divide life up into the smallest possible pieces and judge each piece separately, there is no doubt that every little piece of my life would annoy her. I have often wondered why I annoy her so much; it could be that everything about me contradicts her sense of beauty, her sense of justice, her habits, her traditions, her hopes; such contrary natures exist, but why does she let it cause her so much suffering? There is no relationship between us that would cause her to suffer because of me. She need only decide to view me as a complete stranger since this is after all what I am and since I would have nothing against such a decision she need only decide to forget my existence, which I never have and never would force upon her and all her suffering would obviously be over. In this I take no account of myself or of the fact that her behavior makes me uncomfortable, I ignore this because I recognize that this discomfort is nothing compared to her suffering. Of course I am completely aware that it is not a loving suffering; it has nothing to do with improving me, especially since everything she objects to in me is not of such a nature that it might prevent my success. But my success does not worry her either, what worries her is precisely her personal interest, namely, to take revenge for the torment that I cause her, and to prevent the torment that threatens to come from me in the future. I once tried to show her the best possible way of putting an end to this incessant annoyance, but in so doing I caused such an outburst of rage that I will never repeat the attempt.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2001

    *Amazing look into a person's soul*

    The Hunger Artist is unique like any other of Kafka's works. It is skillfully written and looks at what one man, a hunger artist, will do to prove his worth. The story leaves the reader with a feeling that they could actually get inside the hunger artist's head to understand the importance to starve oneself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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