Crossing the Barriers of Taste: The Alimentary Materialism of Jim Crace’s The Devil’s Larder
British author Jim Crace’s seventh novel, The Devil’s Larder, uniquely portrays food objects as materially agential forces. Examining Crace’s “alimentary materialism” in a series of tableaus that produce digestive upsets, this chapter argues that by crossing the barriers of taste, Crace’s sensuous book utilizes disgust as an affective mode to rethink nonhuman and edible objects and environments. This rhetoric of disgust is contextualized alongside the cultural history of the concept of “meat”, which has been used to bolster the ontological status of the human by figuratively transforming raw flesh (coded as abject, inedible and disgusting) into fodder for the anthropological machine. By challenging the human exceptionalist narrative of homo culinaris (the idea that “to cook is to be human”), this chapter proposes that The Devil’s Larder presents meat as a constellation of human, animal, vegetable and mineral forms that in turn advances a cross-elemental and inter-species paradigm of eating.
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