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A Hunger Artist

A Hunger Artist (Ein Hungerkünstler), also translated as A Fasting Artist, is a short story by Franz Kafka written in 1922 but not published until after his death in 1924. The protagonist is archetypically a creation of Kafka, an individual marginalised and victimised by society at large. The story details the decline and death of a professional hunger artist in a circus who starves himself in a cage. He was systematically neglected by audiences, and remained in obloquy until one of the circus overseers asked him whether he was still fasting. His response is illuminating in that his rationale for his fasting was that he could never find any food he liked, whereupon he died. His cage was subsequently filled with a panther which drew admiring crowds.