The purpose of this essay is to capture and convey, through the use of different works of philosophy that encapsulate thoughts on the same idea, the motif of the absurdity of life in Ernest Hemingway’s first novel The Sun Also Rises. The concept of the absurd will be, first and foremost, examined through absurdist criticism of the novel, using the philosophical thought of Albert Camus, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche and other philosophers who captured the essence of the absurd in their philosophy, all in order to represent this concept in Hemingway’s novel and to show how it truly manifests itself upon some of the most important characters’ psychology and their actions, portrayed throughout the three parts of the book. Mention will be made of the concept of “Lost generation” as it is the cornerstone to understanding, firstly, the characters’ background and current psychological status and the effects that the war had on an entire generation, leading them to an unwilling search for meaning in what this essay strives to present as a meaningless life.
The essay entitled “Food Imagery in Lesley Saunders’ Poetry” expands upon various food issues that will be approached via Gaston Bachelard’s aesthetic theory which situates us in the proximity of a sensible point of objectivity further enlarged upon from a phenomenological perspective that merges the exterior substantiality of food with the reality of imagination. The acquired intimate connotations of the poetess’ food environment are tackled in terms of the inner/outer opposition and the Platonic dialectics that involves old versus new, good versus evil, plenty versus scarcity, revealing the dynamic virtues of “roots,” the emblem of the diversity of food. Our approach to the house, where various types of food are being prepared, in relation to its pivotal functions of dwelling, preparing food and sharing it, turns both the house and food into the unfailing communality and sociality constructs of all places and ages.
This essay studies scenes that focus on food and eating in the films Chocolat (2000) and I Served the King of England (Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále, 2006). To assess whether or not they constitute food porn we compare and contrast such scenes with the description of an unwholesome recipe for cannibalistic eating in Titus Andronicus, which anticipates our contemporary food obsession. At its most basic (and controversial), food porn names the alluring visualisation of certain foodstuffs, which renders food the object of erotically tinged desire. Serving different purposes in the two films, such eroticisation of food can be more than self-referential insofar as it indicates human interactions framed as power relations. Showing chocolate making and eating, in Chocolat, actually visualises a woman’s exertion of power over the women and their husbands in a bigoted French village in 1959, intended to awaken the people’s benumbed desire. Not food proper is the object of desire in the Czech film, but the young woman served up as ocular side dish to the moguls dining in a stylish Prague restaurant before the outburst of WWII. By contrast, food eroticisation is completely absent in Shakespeare; at stake is a verbal (and implicitly visual) concern with the transformation of flesh and body parts into ingredients for seemingly festive consumption. Visualising food, in Titus, implicitly visualises the reclaim and exertion of power in the fictional Roman polity. In all these cases, the concern with food vectorises power relations and may fluidise gendered hierarchies, an issue which food porn scholarship rarely addresses.
The Jordanian-American novelist Laila Halaby is perceived as one of the most well-known contemporary Arab-American writers whose hyphenated identity raises questions regarding which side of the hyphen she belongs to. In this respect, one way to determine whether Halaby identifies herself as an Arab or an American is to examine how she perceives and explores Arab and American cultures and to investigate the different images she constructs about Arabs and Americans. In West of the Jordan (2003), throughout the tales of the four female cousins, this American writer of Arab descent explores the Arab communal values and conventions, as well as the Western beliefs and ways of life. Most importantly, Halaby depicts different images of Arabs and non-Arabs in the context of social, political, and economic conflicts and relationships. In this article, the focus will be mainly on the images of non-Arabs in West of the Jordan. My study, accordingly, draws on Edward Said’s Orientalism and its counterpart Occidentalism, which offer theories of communal and identity construction, as well as practices that lead to stereotyping discourses about the other. This article will consequently start with a definition of the term Orientalism and its counterpart Occidentalism, moving on to deal with the different images of non-Arabs in the second part. Indeed, this latter section investigates how Halaby, who belongs to the Western and Eastern worlds, produces knowledge of the Western society and culture, by offering interesting representations of the two worlds. The third part will shed some light on Halaby’s attitude toward the American world and toward the Arab-American relationships.
Nobel-prize winning poet Seamus Heaney is celebrated for his rich verses recalling his home in the Northern Irish countryside of County Derry. Yet while the imaginative links to nature in his poetry have already been critically explored, little attention has been paid so far to his rendering of local food and foodways. From ploughing, digging potatoes and butter-churning to picking blackberries, Heaney sketches not only the everyday activities of mid-20th century rural Ireland, but also the social dynamics of community and identity and the socio-natural symbiosis embedded in those practices. Larger questions of love, life and death also infiltrate the scenes, as they might in life, through hints of sectarian divisions and memories of famine.
This essay proposes a gastrocritical reading of Heaney’s poetry to study these topics in particularly meaningful ways. Gastrocriticism is a nascent critical approach to literature that applies the insights gained in Food Studies to literary writings, investigating the relationship of humans to each other and to nature as played out through the prism of food, or as Heaney wrote: “Things looming large and at the same time [...] pinned down in the smallest detail.”
This essay examines the perspectives on food, cooking and commensality offered by three highly dissimilar works: Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse (1927), Peter Greenaway’s film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) and, as a cultural foil for the two British works, a Chinese film, Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000). Food or eating is not the central topic of any of them, save Greenaway’s film. Rather, their common denominator is the interplay of visuality and its implicit or explicit social reference, for all three works engage, however differently, with the class differential entailed in scenes featuring food or eating. I use Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological concept of orientation – amended in intersectional terms – to examine the cook figures and instances of representing food or eating in the three works. My working hypothesis is that such representations may reveal both the permanent negotiation of cultural values attached to culinary practices, including to the agents involved, and what they conceal socially.
This essay turns to LaDuke’s literature and activism to explore ways in which contemporary Native American writers center their work around issues of food sovereignty, environmental protection, and economic self-determination as essential platforms for community regeneration, renewal, and survival. I argue that Last Standing Woman (1997), Anishinaabe writer Winona LaDuke’s first novel, dramatizes many of these concerns at the heart of her activist and political work. Central to the novel Last Standing Woman is the significance of wild rice for the White Earth Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) people of Minnesota. In Last Standing Woman, wild rice is not only a traditional and sustainable crop but also one that can ensure the livelihood of the community. At the heart of a feminist and activist novel like Last Standing Woman – as well as Winona LaDuke’s activist work, more broadly – is a twofold challenge, which resonates across much Native American writing: on the one hand, the challenge to preserve (existing resources, cultural practices, etc.); on the other, to recover the losses Native communities have suffered historically through colonization and its many consequences, such as the enormous loss of land suffered by the White Earth community. The turn to literature provides Winona LaDuke with a powerful site of political engagement, where she foregrounds issues of gender, tribal politics, and the environment at the same time as she tells a powerful story about Anishinaabe continued resilience.
This essay examines the manner in which Dave Eggers’s recent work of literary nonfiction, The Monk of Mokha (2018), sets out to amplify the voices of the marginalized by chronicling the adventures of a young Yemeni-American in search of the best coffee in the world. This takes the protagonist from the infamous neighborhood of his birth in San Francisco, “a valley of desperation in a city of towering wealth,” to his trials and tribulations in the war-torn homeland of Yemen. I will argue that the narrative, which blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction and combines history, politics, biography and thriller, highlights the American entrepreneurial zeal and contagious exuberance which still feed the immigrant American Dream and proves that social mobility in the United States is still attainable, sometimes as a result of chasing the world’s most dangerous cup of coffee. Moreover, I argue that the protagonist’s endeavor can be read within the larger context of contemporary political consumption as an example of social justice activism and ethics-driven buying.