On the ending of Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist”

The ending of Kakfa’s short story “A Hunger Artist” is strange, even for Kafka — in fact, it initially makes the story seem like kind of a “shaggy dog” story. After detailing the rise and fall of a professional faster, Kafka stages his death scene:
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Kafka as muse

The fine arts course I’m teaching at Shimer is based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which has inspired countless works of music and visual art. It strikes me that if any more recent figure has the potential to serve as such a productive basis for art, it has to be Kafka. The Trial cries out for operatic treatment. A ballet of “Josephine the Singer” would be inspired. Imagine what visual artists could do with Odradek!

What do you think, readers?

A way out

This post calling for a moratorium on “don’t go to grad school” advice columns, along with a post that captures the appeal of Don Draper in a way that challenges my conclusions in Why We Love Sociopaths, an old post of mine about class and academia, and some discussions with Brad yesterday, makes me think of a quote from Kafka’s “Report to an Academy” that I have always found deeply moving:

No, it was not freedom I wanted. Just a way out; to the right, to the left, wherever; I made no other demands; even if the way out should only be a delusion; my demand was small, the delusion would not be greater. To move on, to move on! Anything but standing still with my arms raised, pressed flat against a crate wall.


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