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From a Survival Technique to a System of Luxury: Defining Gastronomy in Utopias from Mercier to Fourier

From a Survival Technique to a System of Luxury: Defining Gastronomy in Utopias from Mercier to... <p>Abstract:</p><p>Scholars can trace the origins of the cultural field of gastronomy by examining French utopian literature from the turn of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century. Utopian literature from this period re-situated <i>gourmandise</i> in an Enlightenment discourse focused on sociability and sensuality. It elevated the act of eating to a topic worthy of serious scrutiny and shifted the conversation from food as sustenance to food as pleasure. This article examines culinary consumption in three utopias: Louis-Sébastien Mercier&apos;s <i>L&apos;An 2440</i>, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre&apos;s <i>Paul et Virginie</i>, and Charles Fourier&apos;s <i>Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinées générals</i>. The culinary utopias which reflect Brillat-Savarin&apos;s Physiologie du goût (1825) the most are not structured around survival, moderation, and reason. Instead, they are defined by emotions, pleasure, and excess. This study borrows from Roland Barthes&apos; dichotomy between "domestic utopia" and "political utopia" to make sense of this evolution. More so than his predecessors (Mercier and Bernardin de Saint-Pierre), Fourier politicizes the domestic sphere of the kitchen with the purpose of ensuring the right to a minimum standard of sensual pleasure. Despite their differences, the radical mindset developed in all three utopias helped pave the way for <i>gourmandise</i> to become a democratized and celebrated national activity, one that would eventually lead to new cultural figures and professions (the gourmet and food critic).</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png French Forum University of Nebraska Press

From a Survival Technique to a System of Luxury: Defining Gastronomy in Utopias from Mercier to Fourier

French Forum , Volume 43 (3) – Apr 19, 2019

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 French Forum, Inc.
ISSN
1534-1836

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>Scholars can trace the origins of the cultural field of gastronomy by examining French utopian literature from the turn of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century. Utopian literature from this period re-situated <i>gourmandise</i> in an Enlightenment discourse focused on sociability and sensuality. It elevated the act of eating to a topic worthy of serious scrutiny and shifted the conversation from food as sustenance to food as pleasure. This article examines culinary consumption in three utopias: Louis-Sébastien Mercier&apos;s <i>L&apos;An 2440</i>, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre&apos;s <i>Paul et Virginie</i>, and Charles Fourier&apos;s <i>Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinées générals</i>. The culinary utopias which reflect Brillat-Savarin&apos;s Physiologie du goût (1825) the most are not structured around survival, moderation, and reason. Instead, they are defined by emotions, pleasure, and excess. This study borrows from Roland Barthes&apos; dichotomy between "domestic utopia" and "political utopia" to make sense of this evolution. More so than his predecessors (Mercier and Bernardin de Saint-Pierre), Fourier politicizes the domestic sphere of the kitchen with the purpose of ensuring the right to a minimum standard of sensual pleasure. Despite their differences, the radical mindset developed in all three utopias helped pave the way for <i>gourmandise</i> to become a democratized and celebrated national activity, one that would eventually lead to new cultural figures and professions (the gourmet and food critic).</p>

Journal

French ForumUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Apr 19, 2019

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