Hunger Artists

If the Hunger Artist is remembered at all in the United States it is perhaps only because of that great Czech writer, Franz Kafka.

In his short story, A Hunger Artist (Ein Hungerkünstler), published in 1924, Kafka's performer finds himself performing at the circus in the twilight of his career. He discovers that the public is no longer interested in the art of starving oneself for the entertainment of the masses.

Despite the Kafka's story's obvious fantastical element, the real act of starving oneself for entertainment was very real, and attracted a public eager to enjoy the suffering of men and women who were willing to deprive themselves of life-giving sustenance for the amusement of a paying crowd of spectators. The audience would hopefully return of course to check the progress of the hunger artist, and provide him or her with a constant source of income as the entertainer descended towards a thinner and thinner future.