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AlcoholScience, Policy and Public Health$
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Peter Boyle, Paolo Boffetta, Albert B. Lowenfels, Harry Burns, Otis Brawley, Witold Zatonski, and Jürgen Rehm

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199655786

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199655786.001.0001

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Cultural aspects: illustrations of alcohol use in literature

Cultural aspects: illustrations of alcohol use in literature

Chapter:
(p.30) Chapter 4 Cultural aspects: illustrations of alcohol use in literature
Source:
Alcohol
Author(s):

Anya Taylor

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199655786.003.0004

This chapter discusses representations of alcohol use in literature. From the earliest times, songs of drinkers have praised the fermentations of grain and grape; narratives have invented deities who hypostasize the emotions unleashed by wine or beer; dramas in Greece have been performed to honour Dionysus, the spirit of creativity that sparked the plays themselves. In Renaissance plays and narratives, rotund characters such as Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Rabelais’s Pantagruel were icons of energy, liberty, and excessive consumption. The intensification and distribution of distilled spirits is reflected in eighteenth-century literature. James Boswell confessed his weakness for whiskey in his journals. Samuel Johnson admitted to drinking to throw himself away; he analysed the self-destructive mendacity of his drunken friend Richard Savage. In nineteenth-century fiction, often influenced by the temperance movement, alcohol is analysed from the outside as a scourge to families.

Keywords:   alcohol consumption, alcohol abuse, literary representations, Shakespeare, James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, fiction

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