Consider the lobster. An improbable icon, Mesozoic revenant, surrealist fetish, nightmare ornament, and gastronomic adventure, it has fascinated people throughout history. It may be an exaggeration to say that lobsters are a cultural obsession – but only slightly. I, Lobster dissects the place of the lobster in human affairs, through history, science, myth, art, literature, music, movies, and, of course, cuisine. Though not generally beautiful to human eyes, lobsters star in some of the most gorgeous works of art in the world, the still-lifes painted in the Low Countries during the seventeenth century. And while many of us would question their sex appeal, lobsters carried an erotic charge for artists of the twentieth century who, inspired by Freud, found many opportunities to think of them in that way.
Nancy Frazier explores diverse facets of our fascination with the lobster, whether in art, myth, or science. She describes how the lobster lives in its natural surroundings: its food, sex life, social life, predators, and general behavior. But I, Lobster goes beyond what we think about and do to the lobster, to explore how lobsters speak to us as signs, symbols, metaphors, code words, myth, lore, and fantasy. With recipes drawn from such notable lobster connoisseurs as M. F. K. Fisher, Alice B. Toklas, and Craig Claiborne, I, Lobster is a quirky, charming, and weirdly fascinating compendium of lobster lore.
- Introduction: Consider the Cult of the Lobster
- Celebrations, Seductions, and Crimes
- “Natural” History
- Life, Death, and Medical Conditions
- Man-Eating Monsters
- SF: Are We All Lobsters Yet?
- The Palinurus/Palinurus Problem
- “Secrets of the Sea”
- A Metaphor for People
- The Bartender and the Lobster
- Welcome to the Lobster Hotel
- Lobster Onstage: Recipes
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Nancy Frazier is a former researcher and writer for Newsweek magazine and is the author of The Penguin Concise Dictionary of Art History. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Waldoboro, Maine.