Our Daily Bread
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By Predrag Matvejević
Translated by Christina Pribićević-Zorić
Our Daily Bread charmingly weaves together the customs, rituals, anecdotes, legends and sayings that tell the story of bread, from Mesopotamia, through Egypt, to the Far East, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and the New World.
Matvejević shows how bread is depicted in literature and art (with beautiful illustrations) and examines especially closely the role of bread in the major world religions, drawing from the Bible, Talmud and Quran, but also at various apocryphal texts.
In his seventh and last chapter, his narrative moves to the personal, explaining what motivated him to write this book; the lean years of his childhood during World War II and his father’s detention in a German concentration camp. Warning about the pending threat of hunger in the “developed world,” the book fittingly ends with a quote from the Russian anarchist Pyotr Kropotkin: “The question of bread must take precedence over all other questions.”
"After reading Our Daily Bread, Predrag Matvejević’s self-declared meditation on the subject, I will be seeing bread yet again in a different light. Brought to us by Istros Books in a sensitive translation by Christina Pribichevich-Zorić, the late Croatian author and scholar’s book-length reflection on this universal foodstuff is a thing of quiet beauty, a serious yet joyful celebration of something most of us probably take for granted. Crossing centuries and continents, Matvejević traces the history of bread and its cultural significance, evoking the names of gods, saints, poets and philosophers to reveal how entire civilisations have been built on grain."
Eleanor Updegraff, The Monthly Booking
"Matvejević discovers the astonishing sides of the most widespread foods and takes us on an interesting journey in which anthropology and history intertwine. A wonderful and miraculous journey, a search for our roots, an anthropological, but also a literary, historical and linguistic experiment."
(Paolo Mauri, La Repubblica)
"The history of bread is great, rich in knowledge and poetry, faith and art. It encompasses the entire history of mankind: in all civilizations and in all areas it has left the mark of the cognitive heritage. Predrag Matvejević has written a very beautiful book about 'our daily bread'."
(Aldo Grasso, Corriere della Sera)
Praise for the author:
“In the best possible way, Predrag personified the universal role of literature and the spirit of PEN International. Even under the dangerous political pressure, Predrag maintained his faith, humour and charms. . .. When he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature by a group of Italian writers, including Umberto Eco, Predrag was deeply moved, but commented that he had not deserved it.”
Boris A. Novak, PEN International Vice-President
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