Fat Boys: A Slim Book

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Overview

The fat man—a cultural icon, a social enigma, a pressing medical issue—is the subject of this remarkably rich book. The figures that Sander L. Gilman considers, from the ugly fat man with the beautiful sylph trapped inside to the smart fat boy to the aging body desirous of rejuvenation, appear and reappear in different guises throughout Western culture. And as is often true, such marginal cases help define the shifting center of our dreams and beliefs. An exploration into the world of male body fantasies, Gilman’s book examines how the representation of the fat man alters with time and alters how men relate to their own bodies and the bodies of others, both male and female. His examples—ranging from Santa Claus to Sancho Panza, from Falstaff to Babe Ruth, from Nero Wolfe to Al Roker—illustrate the complexity perennially associated with fat men. From discourses about normality to the playing fields of baseball, from Greek male beauty to the fat detective, Gilman’s book examines and illuminates how cultures have imagined and portrayed the fat boy.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
“Gilman opens a valuable conversation about the cultural history of obesity that examines how we have come to understand—and misunderstand—the condition.”—New York Times Book Review
The Times Literary Supplement
“Forcefully written and very well timed. . . . Entertaining.”—Elaine Showalter, Times Literary Supplement
Choice
“This amusing historical and literary review ranges widely, covering subjects such as Santa Claus, the Nutty Professor, and gastric bypass surgery.”—Choice
American Studies

“A welcome survey of representations of male obesity in western culture. Historian Sander Gilman uses character studies of what he terms ‘fat boys’ from antiquity to the present, to ‘negotiate the complexities of defining the healthy and the ill.’”—Carolyn Thomas de la Peña, American Studies

— Carolyn Thomas de la Pe�a

American Studies - Carolyn Thomas de la Pe�a
“A welcome survey of representations of male obesity in western culture. Historian Sander Gilman uses character studies of what he terms ‘fat boys’ from antiquity to the present, to ‘negotiate the complexities of defining the healthy and the ill.’”—Carolyn Thomas de la Peña, American Studies
Elizabeth Mary Sheehan
Gilman opens a valuable conversation about the cultural history of obesity that examines how we have come to understand -- and misunderstand -- the condition.
The New York Times
Library Journal
For decades, obesity has almost exclusively been considered a feminine issue. In his latest book, Gilman (liberal arts; sciences & medicine, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago) challenges this assumption and explores the complex history of the fat man in Western culture. Throughout history, the fat man has held a number of differing stereotypes. He has been a picture of health as well as a bundle of health concerns wrapped up in a lazy body. He has been a model of success and an icon of poverty. Gilman maintains that these views of the fat man have changed as our cultural beliefs and aspirations have changed. In addition, he examines how men view their own physiques and the bodies of others, male and female. He uses examples from a wide variety of times and contexts, from Shakespeare's Falstaff to Al Roker. Gilman uncovers the surprising complexity associated with fat men in a clear and succinct manner. However, the reading level of the book, along with its treatment of a highly specialized, academic subject, recommends it only for academic libraries.-Mark Bay, Cumberland Coll. Lib., Williamsburg, KY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

“Gilman uncovers the surprising complexity associated with fat men in a clear and succinct manner.”—Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803221833
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 5.60 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Sander L. Gilman is Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences at Emory University and is the author of numerous books, including Jewish Frontiers: Essays on Bodies, Histories, and Identities; Smart Jews: The Construction of the Image of Jewish Superior Intelligence (Nebraska 1996); and Fat: A Cultural History of Obesity.
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