upon Roast Pig
This book include
Charles Lamb’s biography and his works.
A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig
is a collection of food-related essays from the early 19th century, with a
humorous bent. They're but a few pages each - a light read to bring a smile to
your face, then on to the next little foodie treat.
Charles Lamb's writing is
playful and amusing. He'll have you chuckling away at his creation myth for the
titular roast pig, then set your mouth watering with an enticing description of
its succulence. It's not quite all-out food porn, but I would quite like some
crackling, even though I'm full right now. Food might be the broad umbrella
under which all his essays find themselves, but there's nothing samey about any
of the offerings, whether it be the hungry chimney sweeps, metaphors of London
fogs as food, or a pun-heavy conceit of the days of the year all coming to a
The only possible criticism
is one that often applies to collections of essays or short stories: that it's
all very well done and a pleasant read, but it's never quite substantial enough
to really get your teeth into. Each piece does everything they set out to do -
they're clever, engaging and evocative - but they're not so roaringly funny
that you'll grab the nearest person and insist they read it, or delve into deep
deep food fantasies. There's a sense of Very good. Next? Wonderful as a light
snack, but lacking slightly as a main meal.
Beyond the format (and that's
not something that you'd want to change anyway), there's nothing to knock in 'A
Dissertation Upon Roast Pig. It speaks to a modern audience as much as it did
to its 19th century audience. Such is the quality of the writing that there's
little to date it; it's as sparkling as it ever was. Timeless humour is
particularly difficult to achieve, and this is greatly to Lamb's credit.
If you're looking for a high
quality yet relaxed read, with humour and food woven together, then A
Dissertation Upon Roast Pig is an excellent choice. You might not head back for
leftovers the next day, but that's by no means the end of the world. Warmly
In his introduction Adam Phillips discusses how Charles Lamb's tragic life and sainted reputation, caring for his mentally ill sister Mary, belied the quality of his work. This edition also includes a biographical index of Lamb's correspondents.
Charles Lamb (1775-1834) was an English essayist best known for his humorous Essays of Elia from which the essay 'A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig' is taken. Lamb enjoyed a rich social life and became part of a group of young writers that included William Hazlitt, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge with whom he shared a lifelong friendship. Lamb never achieved the same literary success as his friends but his influence on the English essay form cannot be underestimated and his book, Specimens of the English Dramatic Poets is remembered for popularising the work of Shakespeare's contemporaries.
Exploring the joys of food and also our complicated social relationship with it, these essays are by turns sensuous, mischievous, lyrical and self-mocking. Filled with a sense of hunger, they are some of the most fascinating and nuanced works ever written about eating, drinking and appetite.