The Singular Beast: Jews, Christians, and the Pig

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Overview

New Republic

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times

Fabre-Vassas argues that the cultural tension between those who did and those who did not eat pork helps set the stage for a murderous anti-Semitism.... Taking her cue from Claude Levi-Strauss, [she] studied the culinary habits of southern France, and the way in which the pig began to be associated with the Jew in the anti-Semitic imaginings of peasant culture, and by implication the rest of Europe.

Journal of Religion

[A] masterful demonstration of the role of the pig as that animal which, because of its own natural and cultural anomalousness, came so powerfully to symbolize the dialectic of identity and difference obtaining between Christians and Jews.

— David Gordon White

Times Literary Supplement

A stunning compendium of porcine and theological folklore.... With remarkable acuity, The Singular Beast shows how the pig, the Jew and the Christian have been locked in a fatal and macabre pas de trois for the past two millenniums.

Religious Studies Review

Fabre-Vassas's work in particular illuminates the fear of otherness that, as a dimension of human consciousness, underlies the relationship between those who are persecuted and those who persecute... The extensive and detailed research in The Singular Beast provides ample evidence of how Jewishness became imbued with all manner of hateful traits.... Through ethnography and text, Fabre-Vassas offers a rich and nuanced protrait of anti-Semitic beliefs and practices that remained deeply embedded in twentieth-century European society.

— Janet Liebman Jacobs

Booknews
From the author's introduction: "We know that the world's cultures readily designate others by what they eat; in Europe we call one another frogs, roast beefs, or macaroni eaters...a very rare exception should have aroused suspicion: Jews are called `pigs,' imagined to be bloodthirsty, identified precisely as what they forbid themselves." This study details the folkloric beliefs and rituals associated with the slaughter and consumption of pigs from the Middle Ages until today, and explores what they reveal about the cultural boundaries between Christians and Jews. Translated from the French (1994, <'E>ditions Gallimard). Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Religious Studies Review
Fabre-Vassas's work in particular illuminates the fear of otherness that, as a dimension of human consciousness, underlies the relationship between those who are persecuted and those who persecute... The extensive and detailed research in The Singular Beast provides ample evidence of how Jewishness became imbued with all manner of hateful traits.... Through ethnography and text, Fabre-Vassas offers a rich and nuanced protrait of anti-Semitic beliefs and practices that remained deeply embedded in twentieth-century European society.

— Janet Liebman Jacobs

Journal of Religion
[A] masterful demonstration of the role of the pig as that animal which, because of its own natural and cultural anomalousness, came so powerfully to symbolize the dialectic of identity and difference obtaining between Christians and Jews.

— David Gordon White

Times Literary Supplement

A stunning compendium of porcine and theological folklore.... With remarkable acuity, The Singular Beast shows how the pig, the Jew and the Christian have been locked in a fatal and macabre pas de trois for the past two millenniums.

The New York Times

Fabre-Vassas argues that the cultural tension between those who did and those who did not eat pork helps set the stage for a murderous anti-Semitism.... Taking her cue from Claude Levi-Strauss, [she] studied the culinary habits of southern France, and the way in which the pig began to be associated with the Jew in the anti-Semitic imaginings of peasant culture, and by implication the rest of Europe.

Religious Studies Review - Janet Liebman Jacobs

Fabre-Vassas's work in particular illuminates the fear of otherness that, as a dimension of human consciousness, underlies the relationship between those who are persecuted and those who persecute... The extensive and detailed research in The Singular Beast provides ample evidence of how Jewishness became imbued with all manner of hateful traits.... Through ethnography and text, Fabre-Vassas offers a rich and nuanced protrait of anti-Semitic beliefs and practices that remained deeply embedded in twentieth-century European society.

Journal of Religion - David Gordon White

[A] masterful demonstration of the role of the pig as that animal which, because of its own natural and cultural anomalousness, came so powerfully to symbolize the dialectic of identity and difference obtaining between Christians and Jews.

Time Magazines Literary Supplement
A stunning compendium of porcine and theological folklore.... With remarkable acuity, The Singular Beast shows how the pig, the Jew and the Christian have been locked in a fatal and macabre pas de trois for the past two millenniums.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Claudine Fabre-Vassas is a research fellow at the Centre Nationale Recherche Scientifique and teaches at the École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

Carol Volk is a translator and Foreign Service Officer based in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

One. An Anological BeingOne. The Red MenTwo. Children's StoriesThree. The Circle of MetamorphosesTwo. From One Blood To the NextFour. The Jew's SowFive. Red EasterSix. Old Jews, Young ChristiansSeven. The Little JewThree. Christian FleshEight. The Return of the PigNine. Blood and SoulTen. The Bone That Sings. The Time of Sacrifice

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