Saturday, November 21, 2015


Hieronymus Bosch -- Allegory of Gluttony

I recently finished reading the short book Gluttony by Francine Prose (Oxford Press, 2003) -- one of a series of 7 books, of course! Here are my two favorite quotations:
Scholars have demonstrated that in the Middle Ages cyclical famines and periods of relative privation were followed by intervals during which people ate as if there were no tomorrow. Thus, much of the population behaved like gluttons for a short, happy season of the year. At the start of their feasts, the still sober, still hungry revelers would have had a brief glimpse of the road down which they were heading. Or perhaps that was part of the point of the feast, and certainly of the drunkenness involved: to briefly escape the knowledge of the hardness of life in this world and the cruelty of the life to come. Perhaps fear and guilt might even have worked as a spice, seasoning the glutton's meal with abandon and terror. (p. 50)
Franchised in  27 countries, Weight Watchers International draws over a million people each week to its meetings. ... revenues ... $212.5 million... Jenny Craig ... reveunes of $142.9 million in the first six months of 2002.... the cost of a week's stay at The Golden Door, one of the oldest and most venerable health spas... is almost $6,000.  
Given these statistics and considering the fortunes being made from out struggle against gluttony, we can safely assume the cultural emphasis on thinness is based on something more complex and insidious than esthetics or altruism. (p. 78)
I especially enjoyed the description and reproductions of various representations
of gluttony in art, including this and the above images by Hieronymus Bosch.


Barbara said...

Rather an intriguing read for a food writer! Love the Bosch interpretations of gluttony.

Jeanie said...

Love the Bosch! I'm worried the subject might hit a little too close to home (at least sometimes!!!)

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

I love the illustrations and your write-up of what you read. I think this bears investigating.