jonathan grimwood

Son Ziyafet

“Devrimden önce açlık gelir.”
Jonathan Grimwood’un ‘Son Ziyafet’ adlı romanının ana fikri tam bu! Meşhur rivayettir; “ekmek bulamıyorlarsa pasta yesinler”. Bu sözün gerçekten söylenmediğini artık hepimiz biliyoruz, ancak ‘devrim’ öncesi atmosferi en iyi anlatan sözdür. Halkın bu muhtaç halini görmeyen yönetenlerin bîhaber tavrının özetidir bu! Haliyle ‘kelle gider’! Tek kelimeyle kusursuz romanında Grimwood, oluşumunda açlığın büyük rol oynadığı Fransız Devrimi’ni ve bir süre öncesini anlatıyor. Ama bunu yaparken, Fransa’daki yozlaşmış soylu sınıfı, iyice keskinleşmiş sınıf ayrımını en ince ayrıntısıyla aktarıyor. Roman boyunca devrin ‘köylü’ halkının bir kenarda durup olanları izleyen bakışlarını, bir süre sonra tam ensenizde hissediyorsunuz! Jane Austen’i bile kıskandıracak dönem adetlerine dair detaylarıyla birlikte tüm yoğunluğu aktarıyor… Dahası var, bugün yemeğin kültürel tarihine müthiş etkisi olan Fransız Devrimi üzerinden, aynı zamanda mutfak tarihini ve sosyal kodlarını da aktarıyor tüm zenginliğiyle. Hatta gerçek tarifler bile sıralıyor, malzemesinden yapılışına kadar… İşin en güzel tarafı, bunları yaparken ‘romantik’ dönemin imzalarını kıskandıracak bir edebiyat dili kullanıyor! Bir o kadar da Proustvari bir tat/koku metaforu üzerine biçimleniyor roman… Fransız Devrimi, sınıf mücadelesi, yemek tarihi, romantik ekol, Jane Austen, Proust… Birkaç romanda bulabileceğimiz unsurların en iyileri tek kitapta daha ne olsun! Yılın en iyi romanlarından!

[Son Ziyafet / Jonathan Grimwood / Çev.: Özlem Yüksel / Kolektif Kitap / Roman]

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Tonight! An evening of storytelling, lively literary conversation, and bizarre culinary tastes. Join novelist Jonathan Grimwood and special guests Charlotte Druckman, Gideon Lewis-Kraus, and Matt Gross at a celebration of food, obsession, and literature. Dishes prepared especially for the occasion by The Works executive chef Emily Casey and inspired by The Last Banquet will be served (You have been warned.)

About The Last Banquet: Set against the backdrop of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the delectable decadence of Versailles, The Last Banquet is the gripping story of one man’s search for the ultimate taste. A sumptuous and appealing novel about food and flavor, about the Age of Reason, about revolution, hunger, and obsession.

Son Ziyafet – Jonathan Grimwood

Jonathan Grimwood (2014). Son Ziyafet. (Çev.) Özlem Yüksel. İstanbul: Kolektif Kitap.

Daha yeni 2013’de yazılmış olan tarihi bir dönemi (yani devrim öncesi Fransa’yı) konu alan bir roman. Roman birinci kişinin ağzından sanki ölmeden önce anılarını yazarmış gibi bir üslupla yazılmış.

Roman ailesi fakir düşmüş ve toprağındaki köylüler tarafından öldürülmüş kanı soylu olan ama kendisi tüm bu unvanlardan kurtulmak isteyen birisinin yani Jean-Marie’ninm hayatını anlatıyor. Şans eseri oradan geçen bazı soylular tarafından kurtarılan Jean-Marie daha sonra okula gönderilir ve hayatta yükselişi başlar. Bir takım şanslar onu iyi bir evliliğe ve zenginliğe götürür. Güneş Kral 14. Louis’in hayvanat bahçesinin müdürü olur. Voltaire ile mektuplaşır, Ben Franklin’i evinde konuk eder. ilk defa halkın yönetime katılmasını sağlayan, kadınlara tarihte ilk defa seçme seçilme hakkı veren Korsika cumhuriyetini kuran Pasquale Paoli ile tanışır ve onun eseri olur. Daha sonra Fransa’nın adayı işgal etmesiyle kurtulur. Ama Kean-Marie’nin hayatındaki en büyük tutku tattır. Her şeyin ama her şeyin tadını öğrenmek gibi tatmin olmaz bir merakı vardır. Bebekliğinde böcek yiyerek hayatta kalmıştır belki de oradan gelme bir yaşama arzusuyla her şeyi tatmak ister. Ve tadar da kedi, köpek, kaplan, yarasa gibi envai çeşit hayvanın yanında; boktan, sperme, terden başka bir sürü şeye kadar.

Romanın ilk bölümleri etkileyici ve sürükleyici bir büyüme hikâyesi onun için insan severek okuyor. Ama sonra birazcık sıkmaya başlıyor Korsika’ya gittiği yerler dışında sürükleyen bölümler pek yok. Bir de bana Patrick Suskin’in koku romanını çağrıştırdı konu olarak; sadece burada tat üzerinden gidilmiş bir de o roman kadar karanlık ve etkileyici bir üslubu yok.        

‘My earliest memory is sitting with my back to a dung heap in the summer sun crunching happily on a stag beetle… .“ That’s Jean-Marie Charles d'Aumont, recalling a meal he ate as a 5-year-old in the barn on the property of his family’s tumbledown château. He’s eating the beetle not out of hunger but because he is a precocious connoisseur. Moments later, two noblemen ride up, hang the peasants who killed his parents, and offer the boy a sumptuous picnic, including Roquefort, in which he finds "a sourness so perfect the world stopped.”


D'Aumont will live through much of the 1700s, up to the brink of the French Revolution, and “The Last Banquet” is his account of his life. He goes on to reclaim his parents’ lost place in the aristocracy—marrying, taking mistresses, getting imprisoned in Corsica—all the while never losing his fascination with food, with flavor. He is a true omnivore, eating foie gras and trout but also peacock tongue and a deceased lion from his private menagerie (which “tasted stringy as old saddle”). He sets down many of his recipes: One is for dog, which “tastes like sour mutton”; another is for three-snake bouillabaisse. D'Aumont is also a philosopher of taste, and a budding scientist, musing that different flavors could be used to change people’s “humour.” “A woman could be brought to bed,” he proposes, “a man made to fight, quarrels forced or mended simply by selecting the right foods.”


There’s an element of the fantastical in this darkly engaging, quasi-picaresque novel, but it may also be read as a kind of social history of 18th-century France, told in a style both sensuous and lean, both colorful and matter-of-fact. Part Gil Blas, part Brillat-Savarin, with maybe a touch of Huysmans’s eccentric 19th-century voluptuary Des Esseintes from “A rebours,” D'Aumont is a cool character, who seems to observe his emotions rather than experiencing them, right up to the point that—well, let’s just say that some days you eat the lion, but some days the tiger eats you.

—  Colman Andrews, The Wall Street Journal
Book Review | The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood

“The afternoon knows what the morning never expected…”

Title: The Last Banquet
Author: Jonathan Grimwood
Genre: Historical Fiction; Young Adult; Romance; Food
Publication Date: 2013 (Canongate Books)
My Edition: Canongate Books (Hardcover, 2013)
Pages: 368 
Source: Prize from Book Depository
Buy: Signed First Edition from Book Depository!

Synopsis (adapted from the Book Depository):

Features Jean-Marie d'Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road. His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy. Despite his frugal roots, and thanks to wit and courage in great measure, he grows up to become a diplomat and spy.

My Thoughts:

This novel was sent to me by The Book Depository as a prize since I had won the Quote of the Week. In this novel, the protagonist Jean-Marie d'Aumout tells his story from his early childhood to his late years, including his education, his friendships, his love life and, most importantly, the discovery of different tastes. The plot is fast-paced since not many philosophical endeavours are done. As for story content, I especially liked the beginning when Jean-Marie is still a boy and is discovering the privileged world his nobility has made possible. As Jean-Marie grows older, he becomes a womaniser in the truest and purest sense. While the confessions of love were not annoying, the graphical details of eventful nights were numerous to the point of sickness to a reader like me who isn’t into that type of reading. Jean-Marie’s ‘tastes’ are of a wide variety. Mistresses even when he’s old! I shook my head and put the book down at some disgusting acts. I’m sad that this effected my overall opinion of this book, but it did drag after all. A content-wise aspect which I liked is that the novel has almost the same amount of happy and bitter experiences. I also enjoyed the different settings and the protagonist’s growth throughout the book. Grimwood’s a good author: his writing style was enjoyable despite that hitch I mentioned before. It’s written in first person narrative and it is excellently executed.  I didn’t detect any particularly interesting themes, or at least they weren’t strong enough for me to comment about them. I loved the characters though! Especially the friendships. My favourite character is not even a person.. it is Tigris, Jean-Marie’s pet tiger. She is such an exotic touch to the book. Although Tigris is blind she’s an amiable companion, at least to those who aren’t afraid of her! Jean-Marie is attached to her in a more loyal manner than he was to his wives. As far Jean-Marie’s personality, I definitely enjoyed his inquisitive nature especially when it comes to taste. The ending is satisfying in a queer way; the last banquet turned out to be different than the lavish dinner I expected when I started reading this book!

Rating: 3/5

I enjoyed Jean-Marie’s delicious and sometimes disgusting journey. It is a fast read but I personally would have loved it more if it had less adult content incorporated with taste. I admit that at times it was sick to the point of closing the book and putting it away… 

Recommendation:

If you enjoy a good book about the French nobility try this out. However, beware of the negative aspects (which you may not mind) that I have mentioned in my review.

100 word review: The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood

  Jean-Marie D’Aumout is the son of nobles who starved to death. An extraordinary person in extraordinary times. Eighteenth century France is a good place to be, if you’re noble and manage a little luck. Jean-Marie is obsessed with taste, science, and cooking. Grimwood leaves behind the speculative in this personal story of discovery of […]

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Europa Editions is so excited about The Last Banquet by Jonthan Grimwood that they’re eschewing their normal paperback original format and publishing it in hardcover. It’s no wonder as the book, which tells the story of Jean-Marie d’Aumout in 18th-century France, contains such sumptuous prose that you want to lick it off a spoon. Plucked from his family’s homestead after the deaths of his broke, aristocratic parents, Jean-Marie spends his life pursuing tastes. He’s sent to school for broke aristocrats and makes lifelong friends there. The novel moves along briskly though the reader never feels hurried. The lush descriptions of food are equaled by the erotic bits and I’ll just say that our main character likes to taste everything and leave it at that. This is a book that I find myself still thinking about weeks later, like that stupendous meal I had last year where I can’t recall much but the happiness and satisfaction.