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Weston Library

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In Kafka’s Metamorphosis when the starving Gregor hears music, he glimpses the way ‘to the unknown nourishment he longed for’. After his emaciated body is disposed of his sister stretches her young body into the sun, full of life energy. But this is not the only story in which Kafka deals powerfully with hunger, art and change. His ‘The Hunger Artist’ takes its cue from the real exhibition fasting artists who until the early years of the twentieth century would starve themselves for the entertainment of paying audiences. The story has been translated into theatre, comic form, animation and a new ballet has been commissioned as part of the Oxford Kafka celebrations. It has also inspired writers, artists and academics to explore the politics and art of starvation in the twentieth century and beyond.

Join Peter Boxall, Alys Moody, Ankhi Mukerjee, and Meindert Peters, who will be in conversation with Karen Leeder to think about how Kafka and the art and literature that comes after him can be read at a time when eating disorders have reached epidemic proportions, hunger-strikes are a political tool and starvation is used as a weapon of war.

This event is free but booking is essential. 


Hunger Artist sketch
Image: (c) Tom Gibbons The Hunger Artist (2002)