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The Land of Hunger

In this highly original book, Camporesi explores the two worlds of feast and famine in early modern Europe.

Camporesi brings together a mosaic of images from Italian folklore:phantasmagoric processions of giants, pigs, vagabonds, down-trodden rogues, charlatans and beggars in rags. He reconstructs a world inhabited by the strange forces of peasant culture, and describes the various rituals – carnivals, festivities, competitions and funerals – in which food played a central role.

Camporesi’s description alternates between the lives of the “haves” and the “have-nots”. He moves from the starving underworld of “criminalized poverty”, where people were forced to develop the art of living at the expense of others simply in order to survive, to the gastronomic culture of the well-fed, with their excessive eating habits, oily foods and colourful table manners.

<i>The Land of Hunger</i>is a graphic and engaging journey into the folk culture of early modern Europe. It will consolidate Camporesi’s reputation as one of the most original and imaginative historians of our time.

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  • January 1996
  • 240 pages
  • 160 x 237 mm / 6 x 9 in
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Table of Contents
Introduction: From Giant to Beggar: the Colossus and the Man of Naught.

1. The Devil’s Carnival.

2. Charlatans, Cheats and Malingerers.

3. The Science of the Belly: Decline and Death of the Myth of Cockaigne.

4. The Land of Hunger.

5. The Witches’ Carnival.

6. A Blemished World.



About the Author
Piero Camporesi is Professor of Italian Literature at the University of Bologna.
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"Ranging across anthropology, folklore, popular religion, medicine and history, and crafted with unusual dramatic skill, Camporesi's books open to our gaze a pre-industrial underclass of subsistence farmers, seasonal labourers and vagrants, people who lived on bread when they could get it, wild roots and berries when they could not, stilling the pangs of hunger with herbal drugs like wormwood and hellebore."
Times Literary Supplement

"Piero Camporesi is one of the most stimulating and path-breaking historians."
Roy Porter

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