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The Culinary Imagination Summary and Reviews

The Culinary Imagination

From Myth to Modernity

by Sandra M. Gilbert

The Culinary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert X
The Culinary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2014
    432 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

In this stunning and important work, the prominent critic, poet, and memoirist Sandra M. Gilbert explores our relationship with food and eating through discussions of literature, art, and popular culture. Focusing on contemporary practices, The Culinary Imagination traces the social, aesthetic, and political history of food from myth to modernity, from ancient sources to our current wave of food mania.

What does it mean to transform raw stuff into cooked dishes, which then become part of our own bodies; to savor festive meals yet resolve to renounce gluttony; to act as predators where in another life we might have become prey? Do the rituals of the kitchen have different meanings for men and women, for professional chefs and home cooks? Why, today, do so many of us turn so passionately toward table topics, on the page, online, and on screen? What are the philosophical implications of the food chain on which we all find ourselves?

In The Culinary Imagination, Gilbert addresses these powerful questions through meditations on myths and memoirs, children's books, novels, poems, food blogs, paintings, TV shows, and movies. Discussing figures from Rex Stout to Julia Child and Andy Warhol, from M. F. K. Fisher and Sylvia Plath to Alice Waters and Peter Singer, she analyzes the politics and poetics of our daily bread, investigating our complex self-definitions as producers, consumers, and connoisseurs of food. The result is an ambitious, lively, and learned examination of the ways in which our culture's artists have represented food across a range of genres.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The topics she covers are so many and wide-ranging that they sometimes feel shallow. But when Gilbert sinks her teeth into a subject... her evocative prose and shrewd analyses make for an intellectual feast. " - Publishers Weekly

"Gilbert wears her scholarship lightly in this warm, lively inquiry into the social, political, ethical and aesthetic meanings of 'food, glorious food!'" - Kirkus

"It is hard to imagine how Sandra Gilbert could have produced so broad an overview of contemporary food writing and thought, not only literary analysis but also history, memoir ("foodoir!"), and bibliography. Anyone wanting an introduction to the meaning of food culture should start here." - Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, and author of Eat Drink Vote

"A rich and tasty dish of cultural history, gastronomical ethnology, literary criticism, and memoir…flavored with Gilbert's characteristic blend of erudition and humor, warmth and wisdom. I learned something from every delicious page." - Elaine Showalter

"Wonderful…The Culinary Imagination shows us how food can be, and has been, transformed through history into memory, myth, language, and image as different artists explore the subject in different forms. This is a tour of our daily lives with a radiant light cast on our most essential item." - Eavan Boland

"Sandra M. Gilbert brings her legendary powers of discernment and analytical gusto to the urgent subject of food, and the results - lushly entertaining, salty with anecdote and wisdom - have lyrical savor and a tenderly autobiographical richness." - Wayne Koestenbaum

"I love The Culinary Imagination - it's so funny, foodie, learned, and personal at the same time. It shines with joy!" - Diane Johnson

"A rich, powerful, important delight of a book to mull over both for its splendid insights but also to use for years to come as a guidebook into the most important writing about food both now and in the past." - Louise DeSalvo

The information about The Culinary Imagination shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Sandra M. Gilbert

Sandra M. Gilbert has published numerous volumes of criticism, including, most recently, Death's Door: Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve, as well as eight collections of poetry and a memoir. She is coeditor (with Susan Gubar) of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women and a recipient of the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. A Distinguished Professor of English emerita at the University of California, Davis, she lives in Berkeley, California.

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