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Hardcover Gluttony Book

ISBN: 0195156994

ISBN13: 9780195156997

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

In America, notes acclaimed novelist Francine Prose, we are obsessed with food and diet. And what is this obsession with food except a struggle between sin and virtue, overeating and self-control--a struggle with the fierce temptations of gluttony.
In Gluttony, Francine Prose serves up a marvelous banquet of witty and engaging observations on this most delicious of deadly sins. She traces how our notions of gluttony have evolved along with our...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A refreshing new look at an old sin...interesting little book!

This book is really cute and little, but deals with a serious and deadly subject: gluttony and obesity. Really fascinating insights and it is so easy and fast to read. I digested every page and didn't gain a single pound - Amazing! Great read!

"We have become a culture of gluttons"

So concludes Francine Prose in her insightful analysis of gluttony. Part of the sadly uneven 7 Deadly Sins series, Prose's volume is one of the three best of the lot (the other two are Simon Blackburn's Lust and Robert Thurman's Anger). It's well worth reading. Prose, a sensitive historian as well as a penetrating observer of contemporary culture, believes that gluttony "may well be the most widespread" of the 7 deadlies, even though it "appears to have become the least harmful of sins" (p. 41). For those of us living in the wealthier nations, the ethos of food is paradoxical. On the one hand, we're surrounded by enducements to eat often and heartily--or, if one is a member of the high cuisine crowd, to eat preciously and expensively. On the other hand, however, we're also hyper-conscious of both the aesthetics of bodily appearance and the relationship between diet and health. As the old advertisement has it, you can't be too rich or too thin (in fact, even though the demographics no longer bear out the correlation, popular culture still associates obesity with poverty). What this means is that most of us to one degree or another are obsessed with food, either the eating of it or the painful avoidance of it. We may not talk about our food-obsession in the traditional language of sin, preferring instead the language of psychology and therapy (gluttony as a psychological compensatory strategy), but we frequently react to our own and others' over-eating in such strongly judgmental terms that it sounds as if we're condemning a sin. (When I used this book as a text in a philosophy class, for example, my students got pretty heated in their nearly unanimous criticisms of "fat, undisciplined" people.) But as Prose points out, gluttony has traditionally been seen as one of the 7 deadlies precisely because it becomes an idol--that is, an obsession--for people who fall under its sway. An obsession with food redirects attention away from what's important (in traditional terms, a relationship with God or beauty or service to others) and focuses it on self-pleasure and self-absorption. One's belly (or one's appearance, or one's health) becomes one's god. Is our current obsession with thinness on the one hand and gorging ourselves/titillating our palates on the other hand really so different from this? Prose doesn't think so, and I believe she's made a convincing case. An excellent, provocative, insightful, sensitive book--and beautifully illustrated as well.

Too soon, too expensively, too greedily, too delicately, and too much

Gluttony is perhaps the most misunderstood of the seven sins, but in this book we discover that there is much more to it than eating a lot. For one thing most people tend to associate it with overeating, but in reality it also encompasses any harmful kind of indulgence, including alcohol and drugs. Also in the first chapter, the other aspects of gluttony are revealed: too expensively and too delicately, things nowadays most people would be unaware to be related to the sin of gluttony. Once all of this is taken into consideration, one realizes that gluttony may be one of the most common and prevalent of the seven sins today. The author examines heavily on the medieval views of gluttony; Back in the day, the monks and priests of early churches viewed it as a treacherous, very-easy-to-commit sin, one with a twist: A person must eat to survive, but to enjoy or take pleasure in eating was outright sinful. As well as this, the author also explores the medieval obsession for the consequences of such sin, such as the artistic works of Pieter Brueghel and the sin-obsessed Hieronymus Bosch. In the next chapter, the author brings us to modern times and our paradoxical infatuation with the sin: Our culture that stresses so much on being thin and fit, and yet everywhere we look we see fast food joints and obesity on the rise. The author examines the infamy of gluttony as a killer and humiliating to its indulgers, pointing out the scorn and prejudice that many obese people face from the public and their peers as well as the rising toll of obesity-related deaths. One particularly memorable passage is the story of former singer Carnie Wilson, who underwent laparoscopic bypass surgery after coming close to 300 pounds and near fatal cholesterol and blood pressure levels (perhaps you've seen that commercial). Overall, one of the most informal of all the books I've read in the seven sins series and one that can be read and understood by casual readers and intellectuals alike; it is a marvelous read! (Though there is some unpleasant imagery in this book, I refuse to let it hurt my rating of this great book)

Brief and Entertaining

Seeing that this book was part of a set on the 7 Deadly Sins, I thought these short little books would be a quick little study into the sins. Prose does a great job of doing just that - entertaining with little tidbits of information on the sin of gluttony. The little time it takes to read this book is well worth the time.

Is It Really a Sin?

Francine Prose examines gluttony as one of the seven deadly sins, and discovers that we may need to update that list. Gluttony is no longer a sin in our society, but obesity is. We don't scorn a thin person who eats a lot, in fact, we envy her. (Oops, another deadly sin rears its ugly head.)Prose looks at the history of gluttony, in the church, in paintings and murals (check out Diego Rivera's Capitalist Dinner), and in popular culture. She uses literature, philosophy, and overheard conversations and jokes to make her points. For such a thin book (108 pages with color photos and index), there is an awful lot to chew on here.
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