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Food for thought: Proust remembered it first?

Letters

With reference to Astragal's piece on Eating Architecture (AJ 10.6.04), you should know that Proust, in A la recherche du temps perdu, makes great play with the self-same comparison between meat and marble.

See Pleiade 1954 Volume I, p445, where the cook Francoise is compared to Michelangelo; she goes in person to the meat markets, to choose the best chunks of steak, beef shin and calf 's foot in the same way as Michelangelo spends eight months at Carrara choosing the most perfect blocks of marble, and 'Francoise avait envoye cuire? comme du marbre rose, ce qu'elle appelait du jambon de Nev' York'. ('Francoise had sent off to be cooked, like pink marble, what she called Nev' York ham', my translation. ) More outrageous is his comparison of tombstones to honey (Pleiade I, 59). He visits the church at Combray: 'Ses pierres tombales?n'etaient plus ellemÛmes de la matiÞre inerte et dure, car le temps les avaient rendues douces et fait couler comme du miel hors du limite de leur proper equerissure qu'ici elles avaient dÚpassÚes d'un flot blond entrainant Ó la dÚrive une majuscule gothique en fleurs, noyant les violettes blanches du marbre'.

('Its tombstones?themselves were no longer made of an inert hard material, since time had softened them and had made them flow like honey beyond the edges of their squared off plots, carrying on their blond flood a flowered gothic capital letter which drowned the white violets of the marble', my translation. ) Grace Kenny London W14

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