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Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin et Christophe Hausermann
p. i-iv
Cet article est une traduction de :
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Many thanks to Janice Valls-Russell (IRCL, Montpellier, CNRS) for her careful proofreading of this English version.

1Arts of the table are not far removed from performing arts. The table is a stage. It has its actors, its backstage, its sets, its props, its rules, its mises en scène, its lighting and musical effects. In English, “boards” can refer both to a table and a stage — either of which can indifferently be designated by “tréteaux” (trestles) in French. The early modern stage abundantly feeds on this spectacular and festive matter. Plays by Shakespeare or by his contemporaries, notably Heywood, Kyd, Marlowe, Lyly, Greene, Peele, Chapman, Marston or Dekker, teem with episodes where food, feeding and eating are staged and where the table appears as a place of creation, recreation and ostentation. From Titus’ bloody serving-up of dishes to the banquet whereby Timon literally makes his guests’ mouths water, through the trompe-lœil feast conjured up by Ariel, Shakespeare presents cooking and eating rituals in all their musical, theatrical and visual artifice. This volume on “Shakespeare and the arts of the table” is an invitation to study early modern food culture, practices and discourses, to address the representation and aesthetics of both the table and the art of cookery, and to explore recipes, objects and utensils that condition the raw and the cooked, eating and drinking.

2“She makes hungry where most she satisfies”: Cleopatra, described as “a morsel for a monarch”, is changed through a gastronomic metaphor into a work of art the meaning and flavour of which, far from being exhausted in consumption, feed pleasures that are continually renewed, generating desires that are never satiated. Foodstuffs must undergo transformation in order to become royal dainties whose meaning goes beyond mere physical necessity and pure instinct. Arts of the table refer not so much to food that satisfies as to food that rejoices the senses, delights the guests or leaves them with a sense of craving.

3A study of Shakespeare and the arts of the table implies an exploration of the rules of hospitality and etiquette as well as of their transgression. The festive, civil table can become a table of torture. This collection of essays not only addresses the matter of food stuffs but also table manners as they are taught in the numerous Renaissance treatises on civility and conduct and as they are staged and perverted in the plays. As was shown by Michel Jeanneret, arts of the table have to do with eatables but also with speakables and readables; they reconcile the stomach and the head by summoning the two functions of the mouth: eating and talking. In Shakespeare’s world, the arts of the table inevitably lead to the arts and pleasures of the tongue, to table talk and feasts of words.

Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin


4Ken Albalas and Gilly Lehmanns papers are mouth-watering appetizers to this collection. They show the existence of a “culinary style” in Elizabethan times through recipes, ingredients and food metaphors. David B. Goldstein, Johann Gregory and Tobias Döring analyse Shakespeare’s plays through a culinary prism: eating, digesting/bloating and belching. Natalia Brzozowska et Imke Pannen study the perversion of the arts of the table in some bloody banquets. Finally, Joanne Vine’s essay questions the lack of scenes representing eating and drinking in Ben Jonson’s plays for the Children of the Revels, which is particularly uncommon for such a “bon vivant”.

Christophe Hausermann

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Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin et Christophe Hausermann, « Foreword »Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare, 29 | 2012, i-iv.

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Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin et Christophe Hausermann, « Foreword »Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare [En ligne], 29 | 2012, mis en ligne le 03 mars 2012, consulté le 14 juillet 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin

Université de Montpellier III-Paul Valéry

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Christophe Hausermann

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Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

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