Symbolism And Symbolism In Kafka's A Fasting Artist

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Mohammed Ismail Shaikh Ismail English 103 1208022439 What is the overall meaning, symbolic or otherwise, of Kafka 's ‘A fasting-artist ' Hunger or starvation artists were a popular phenomenon during the 18TH, 19TH 20th centuries in Europe and In the United States of America. A common sight as sideshow attractions and at carnivals, these artists would fast for extended periods of time and would travel from city to city exhibiting their art. Kafka 's ‘A fasting-artist ' demonstrating the lives of one such hunger artist, is a phenomenal work of literature. Not only does it tell an interesting and on the surface, straightforward story about the pains that a ‘Fasting-artist ' goes through in order to display his art and the joy he finds in his…show more content…
Upon a deeper examination of this story many uses of symbolism and themes emerge and one can see how the Kafka uses the allegory of the fasting artist to represent the message he wants to bring across. The first use of symbolism in the story begins with the fasting artist himself. During the early 18th and 19th centuries the phenomenon of starving artists was quite popular. These were artists who would live on the barest of essentials, including minimal food and clothing and would dedicate themselves completely to their task. They were highly romanticized by the European elite and were praised for their dedication to their art. The artist in the story while being a literal ‘starving-artist ' represents this same phenomenon. He literally starves himself for his art, fasting for days on end in order to impress and entertain his audience. His dedication to his art is admirable as he does not cheat even when he has ample opportunity to. He, in fact, despises the idea of cheating. Just like other starving artists, he too captures the fascination of the audience at the time. The artist in the story is highly romanticized as it is shown that his dedication for his art is so extreme that he only even breaks the fast once every forty days because he is forced to by his manager. He even dies while performing his art. The author, Kafka examines the theme of romanticism and extreme devotion to one 's art that was greatly valued…show more content…
Thus the author uses the story to examine both romanticism, which was a popular idea at his time and post-modernism which was an emerging school of thought. The author uses the concepts of post-modernism to encourage the readers to look skeptically at past ideas like romanticism. The author also examines other themes in the story including the idea that change is inevitable and he plays around with the idea that the value of art is linked to the audience. Through the allegory of the fasting-artist the author shows how change is inevitable and how much of an impact it can have on those who deny it. In the start of the story the artist is at the peak of his career. He has adoring fans who come from all over the city to see him and who spend hours observing and talking to him. Even at night people come to observe the artists talent. During the peak of his career, people even bring their kids to the artist and explain to them the phenomenal feat of art that he is performing. At the time he actually complains about the attention he receives and about the limits placed on how long he can fast. However as the years pass the audience interest in the artist 's performance starts to wane. Even though he does the same thing that he used to, people are no longer interested in his art. However because he refuses to adapt to the change and to try something else the artist 's situation ends up becoming worse and worse. He goes to the carnival where he is initially greeted by

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