Another Bynum! This from about a month ago when I wandered into St. George’s to pick up a couple of books and exited with a quartet. I was waiting for my pickup and doing a usual round of browsing the shelves when I saw Caroline Walker Bynum’s Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women nonchalently wedged between a couple of unremarkable mediæval books. I’m sure it was a trap just for me. And of course I couldn’t say no as it was cheap, on my reading list, and I seem to be determined to read everything Bynum published.
This is another early-ish one from that period in the early ’90s when she was prolific. Unlike Fragmentation and Redemption and Jesus as Mother, this isn’t a group of essays, but what she does best: establish deeply involved analysis over hundreds of pages. A quarter in, I still think Wonderful Blood is her best work, though even Jesus as Mother which I don’t think is especially memorable makes most other stuff I read look half-arsed and pedestrian.
As with all her books, I’ll be reading this for a couple of months. It’s slow, dense, opaque work, and I enjoy every sentence in a sufferingly intense kind of way.