(I consented to see him, having decided that I would take him for everything he possessed, including his last collar, as soon as I could manage it.)44 This is more than an individual move to gain further wealth and patronage. It is also an act of anticlerical vigilante justice, since the cleric’s own role is, as Margot tells us to ‘s’engraisser inhumainement de notre propre substance, et de rire a nos dépens’ (‘to grow fat [at our expense] laughing all the while behind our backs.’)45 In a society riven with corruption and inequality, the most vulnerable in society must eat or be eaten.
Margot’s metaphorical cannibalism is sexual as well as financial. In a less cartoonish reprise of her encounters with animalistic clients, in her later, wealthier years she spends a portion of her income on employing and strategically feeding up male servants more virile than her sluggish patrons to satisfy her own carnal desires. These young men are proprement entretenus, et nourris comme des poulets à l’épinette, ou, pour parler moins métaphoriquement, comme de bienheureux directeurs de Nones, lesquels n’ont d’autre soin en ce monde, que de faire dévotement de bon chile & ce qui s’ensuit. (well looked after and fed like caged chickens or, to speak less metaphorically, like a nun’s confessor who has not a care in the world, save producing in his charges devotedly good chyle.)46 Chyle, the most refined part of food, was believed to be crucial to sexual potency and the creation of seminal fluid, with Margot’s description of her virile lackeys playing on contemporary medical associations between the well-nourished and the sexually potent body.47 As the hand that strategically feeds, Margot is again confirmed as an intelligent human set amongst a flock of animals, well versed in manipulative dietetics, and the sole agent impervious to food’s potentially transformative properties. Yet this empowerment comes at a price. Only by self-consciously replicating a system that sees her as a consumable good, ready for male appetites, can she satisfy her own needs.
[ 27 ]
You have no current subscriptions in your account.
Would you like to explore the titles in our collection?
You have no collections in your account.
Would you like to view your available titles?