18 July 2016 – Do you talk about “devouring” books? The metaphor is common but hardly benign. Consider the long, turbulent relationship between reading and eating. ‘Devouring’ a book has always to me been nothing more than a way of describing an engrossing and captivating book. It means that the reader is enthralled by the book and takes care in reading and thinking about it. Maybe because one of the earliest — and arguably most pervasive — stories where eating became an issue also involved the intake of knowledge. Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge and that led to their expulsion from Eden. In a sense they “devoured” the fruit and that lead to their downfall.
Or maybe the intertwining of eating and reading imagery is taking things too far. It is possible to overthink things, you know. Here is a fascinating piece on the subject by Louise Adams who writes about media, religion and intellectual history (click here).