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Title: Temples of the Spirit: The Function of Food in Melville and Bellow
Authors: Birindelli, Roberto
Keywords: Melville and foodSaul Bellow and foodFood in American literature
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Roberto Birindelli, “Temples of the Spirit: The Function of Food in Melville and Bellow", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, XI (2004), pp. 143-156
Series/Report no.: Prospero XI
Abstract: In the second half of the 19th Century, American intellectuals were trying to get rid of British influences in literature and to establish their own canon. One of the most popular sections of the New York-based "Knickerbocker Magazine" was the “Editor’s Table”, where bon vivants under pseudonym wrote about city gossips and fine dining as a way of distinguishing themselves from New York’s brutal commercial world. The editor Clark encouraged the forging of an American matter-of-fact masculinity against the European romantic speculativeness, perceived as feminine. The essay discusses the sketch 'The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids' by Melville and the novel "Herzog" by Saul Bellow. The sketch makes use of the semantic field of eating and introduces every dish by a military analogy. On the contrary, in "Herzog", food is associated with love, and the erotic implication of good eating, oriental music and the renewal of the spirit through the flesh are skilfully exploited. The author argues that both in the case of Melville and Bellow what is foregrounded through the adoption of the extended metaphor of food and the participation in organised dinners is the danger of affirming the primacy of material life as compared to spiritual life.
ISSN: 1123-2684
Appears in Collections:2004 / 11 Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali

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