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A Hunger Artist Historical Context

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Historical Context

The Hunger Artists

It may come as a surprise that "A Hunger Artist" is partially based on the real historical phenomenon of "professional fasting." While most critics have failed to note this, Breon Mitchell, in his article, "Kafka and the Hunger Artists," has brought to light the history of a world famous "hunger artist" whose coverage in local newspapers may have inspired Kafka's story. Mitchell points out that "almost every detail" of Kafka's story corresponds to "the actual profession of fasting for pay." He states that, "The correspondence with reality is, in fact, so close that Kafka could not possibly have written the tale without some direct or indirect knowledge of the best-known hunger artists of his time."

The phenomenon of "professional fasting" lasted from 1880-1922, roughly the years of Kafka's lifespan. The first professional fast was accomplished by Dr. Henry Tanner, an American who was said to...

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This section contains 988 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our A Hunger Artist Study Guide
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A Hunger Artist from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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