Eating Infinite Jest

Comedian Jamie Loftus recently posted a video commemorating the first year of her plan to eat an entire copy of the novel Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, one page at a time. She's never read it. She's just eating it.

This caught my attention because, as it turns out, I've got a folder on my computer where I've been filing examples of people who eat books, aka bibliophagia.

I've already posted one of the examples here on WU. It was the case from 1926 of the boy who was eating his family's Bible.

Then there's a report from 1936 of a schoolboy who, in order to win a bet of 20 cents, ate all 138 pages of "The Mountain Garland," a dramatic poem by Petar Petrovic Njegos.

The Uniontown Morning Herald - May 5, 1936

And a bunch of examples can be found in The Excursions of a Book-Lover by Frederic Rowland Marvin:

In 1370 Barnabo Visconti compelled two Papal delegates to eat the bull of excommunication which they had brought him, together with its silken cord and leaden seal. As the bull was written on parchment, not paper, it was all the more difficult to digest.

A similar anecdote was related by Oelrich in his "Dissertation de Bibliothecarum et Librorum Fatis," (1756), of an Austrian general who had signed a note for two thousand florins, and was compelled by his creditor, when it fell due, to eat it.

A Scandinavian writer, the author of a political book, was compelled to choose between being beheaded or eating his manuscript boiled in broth.

Isaac Volmar, who wrote some spicy satires against Bernard, Duke of Saxony, was not allowed the courtesy of the kitchen, but was forced to swallow his literary productions uncooked.

Still worse was the fate of Philip Oldenburger, a jurist of great renown, who was condemned not only to eat a pamphlet of his writing, but also to be flogged during his repast, with orders that the flogging should not cease until he had swallowed the last crumb.
     Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 16, 2017
     Category: Food | Books

Makes potted muskrat sound good – especially that parchment Papal bull, with the silken cord and lead seal.
Posted by Virtual on 06/16/17 at 12:23 PM
At least it's high in fiber.
Posted by ges on 06/16/17 at 12:30 PM
Bibliophagia - it figures that there would be a word for it.
Posted by KDP on 06/16/17 at 03:20 PM
For me, the strangest part of the story was "I've got a folder on my computer where I've been filing examples of people who eat books, aka bibliophagia."

It occurs to me that you could print the contents of that folder, bind it into a book, and hand it over to a bibliophage-- you might need to add some other stuff, though, as filler...
Posted by Justin S. on 06/17/17 at 02:04 AM
I wouldn't be worried about the parchment - animal skin, a.k.a. crackling - or the silk - also an animal product. The lead seal, though, can't have been good for them.
Posted by Richard Bos on 06/20/17 at 04:08 PM
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