Journal of Romance Studies

Food, disorder, and disgust in Marie NDiaye

Journal of Romance Studies (2020), 20, (2), 323–346.

Abstract

This article argues that food, food preparation and disorderly eating are core concerns in Marie NDiaye’s writing. The author’s detailed depiction of protagonists’ unusual relationships to food is shown to contribute to the complex and enigmatic ethical matter of her texts. Through analysis of scenes of disorderly eating in three novels, Mon Cœur à l’étroit (2007), Ladivine (2013), and La Cheffe, roman d’une cuisinière (2016), the article shows how food practices in NDiaye are intricately connected to identity and integral to her protagonists’ emergence as ethical subjects. NDiaye’s focus is characteristically on the negative affect that may be associated with food, most notably disgust. Accordingly, the article explores the significance of disgust feelings in her work, particularly as they are generated by excess. It concentrates on disgust that is occasioned by two key animal substances: meat and fat. It also examines the ethics of food production and the increasingly ascetic gastronomy elaborated in La Cheffe.

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Works cited

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NDiaye, Marie (2007) Mon cœur à l’étroit (Paris: Gallimard). Google Scholar

NDiaye, Marie (2013) Ladivine (Paris: Gallimard). Google Scholar

NDiaye, Marie (2016) La Cheffe, roman d’une cuisinière (Paris: Gallimard). Google Scholar

Orbach, Susie (2016 [1978]) Fat is a Feminist Issue (London: Arrow). Google Scholar

Ory, Pascal (1992) ‘La Gastronomie’, in Les Lieux de mémoire: la Nation – Les France – II, ed. Patrick Modiano, Pierre Nora (Paris: Gallimard), 822–853. Google Scholar

Rozin Paul, and April E. Fallon (1987) ‘A perspective on disgust’, Psychological Review 94.1: 23–41. Google Scholar

Still, Judith (2019) ‘Refusing consumption and querying genre: A partial reading of Marie NDiaye’, Parallax 25.3: 288–303. Google Scholar

Vialles, Noëlie (1987) Le Sang et la chair (Paris: Éditions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme). Google Scholar

Akerman, Chantal (dir.) (1975) Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland (1957) Mythologies (Paris: Éditions du Seuil). Google Scholar

Bramble, Ben (2016) ‘The case against meat’, in The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat, ed. Ben Bramble and Bob Fischer (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 135–152. Google Scholar

Brillat-Savarin, and Jean Anthelme (2017) Physiologie du goût (Paris: Flammarion). Google Scholar

Coveney, John (2006) Food, Morals and Meaning: The Pleasure and Anxiety of Eating (London and New York: Routledge). Google Scholar

Ferguson, Priscilla Parkhurst (2004) Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). Google Scholar

Giard, Luce (1994) ‘Faire-la-cuisine’, in L’Invention du quotidien, ed. Michel de Certeau, Luce Giard, and Pierre Mayol (Paris: Gallimard Coll. Folio/Essais), 213–350. Google Scholar

Haybron, D.M. (2007) ‘Do we know how happy we are? On some limits of affective introspection and recall’, Nous 41.3: 394–428. Google Scholar

Jordan, Shirley (2017a) ‘Looking for Marie NDiaye: Autofictional fragments from Autoportrait en vert (2005) to La Cheffe, roman d’une cuisinière (2016)’, conference paper podcast: https://www.sas.ac.uk/videos-and-podcasts/culture-language-and-literature/looking-marie-ndiaye-autofictional-fragments. Google Scholar

Jordan, Shirley (2017b) Marie NDiaye: Inhospitable Fictions (Oxford: Legenda). Google Scholar

Jordan, Shirley (2018) ‘Eating between pleasure and discontent in Marie NDiaye’s “La Gourmandise”’, in Women Behaving Badly? Women’s Pleasures and their Discontents in Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, ed. Diana Holmes, Maggie Allison, and Carrie Tarr (Oxford: Peter Lang), 203–217. Google Scholar

Jordan, Shirley (forthcoming) ‘Fictions of self’, in Contemporary Fiction in French, ed. Russell Goulbourne and Anna-Louise Milne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Google Scholar

Mahuzier, Brigitte (2001) ‘Colette’s “Écriture gourmande”’, in French Food: On the Table, on the Page and in French Culture, ed. Lawrence R. Schehr and Allen S. Weiss (New York and London: Routledge), 99–113. Google Scholar

Menninghaus, Winfried (2003) Disgust: The Theory and History of a Strong Sensation, trans. Howard Eiland and Joel Golb (Albany: State University of New York Press). Google Scholar

Miller, Susan B. (2004) Disgust: The Gatekeeper Emotion (London: Routledge). Google Scholar

NDiaye, Marie (1990) En famille (Paris: Éditions de Minuit). Google Scholar

NDiaye, Marie (1996) ‘La Gourmandise’, in J.P. Géné and Marie NDiaye, La Gourmandise (3 Les Péchés capitaux) (Paris: Editions du Centre Pompidou), 46–63. Google Scholar

NDiaye, Marie (2005) Autoportrait en vert (Paris: Mercure de France). Google Scholar

NDiaye, Marie (2006) ‘Le Jour du Président’, in Patrick Modiano, Marie NDiaye, and Alain Spiess, Trois nouvelles contemporaines (Paris: Gallimard), 51–67. Google Scholar

NDiaye, Marie (2007) Mon cœur à l’étroit (Paris: Gallimard). Google Scholar

NDiaye, Marie (2013) Ladivine (Paris: Gallimard). Google Scholar

NDiaye, Marie (2016) La Cheffe, roman d’une cuisinière (Paris: Gallimard). Google Scholar

Orbach, Susie (2016 [1978]) Fat is a Feminist Issue (London: Arrow). Google Scholar

Ory, Pascal (1992) ‘La Gastronomie’, in Les Lieux de mémoire: la Nation – Les France – II, ed. Patrick Modiano, Pierre Nora (Paris: Gallimard), 822–853. Google Scholar

Rozin Paul, and April E. Fallon (1987) ‘A perspective on disgust’, Psychological Review 94.1: 23–41. Google Scholar

Still, Judith (2019) ‘Refusing consumption and querying genre: A partial reading of Marie NDiaye’, Parallax 25.3: 288–303. Google Scholar

Vialles, Noëlie (1987) Le Sang et la chair (Paris: Éditions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme). Google Scholar

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Jordan, Shirley

Jordan, Shirley