Sunday 6 January 2013

On spinach

Here's Flaubert on spinach:

Ne jamais rater la phrase célèbre de Prudhomme : « Je ne les aime pas, j’en suis bien aise, car si je les aimais, j’en mangerais, et je ne puis pas les souffrir. » 

[Never forget the famous phrase of Prudhomme's: "I don't like it, and I'm glad I don't like it, because if I liked it I'd eat it, and I can't stand it"]

This a template that can, with minimal alteration, apply to almost anything else - football, texting, cultural studies and the Daily Mail. Or anybody, come to that: I don't like the Culture Secretary (whoever he or she happens to be this month, but let's for the sake of argument assume it's a he), and I'm glad I don't like him because if I did I'd have to respect him and I can't stand the unctuous blighter.

Flaubert's Dictionary is among the funniest books ever written, and still makes us laugh today - indeed 'laugh out loud' - because the kind of stupidity he gleefully records hasn't changed at all. He lampoons the pompous and unreflecting assumptions and prejudices of the bourgeoisie (and there are none more lampoonable) to illuminate the thinking (or lack of it) that underlies the complacent, the witless and the gullible - all of us, that is.

Unlike M. Prudhomme I happen to like spinach, which cropped up in Spinach and Ice-cream, a piece I wrote about Eugene O'Neill last year:

1 comment:

  1. Of all the 'most important innovations' that people are wearisomely asked to identify, nobody ever mentions pre-washed spinach. A boon and a joy.
    I re-read the Dictionary regularly and have extracts post-it-noted around my computer at work (with 'the ubiquitous weapon of self-importance that is PowerPoint' - Ed Reardon). Nobody gets it.