Carnophallogocentrism and the Act of Eating Meat in Two Novels by Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Taylor

  • Adrian Tait
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


According to Jacques Derrida, the act of eating meat reflects the dominance of a masculine discourse he called “carnophallogocentrism”, a sacrificial structure of thought that elevates the carnivorous male to a position of centrality within Western culture. This chapter explores the way in which carnophallogocentric thinking operates within the fictional worlds of two, interlinked novels: Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927), and Elizabeth Taylor’s At Mrs. Lippincote’s (1945). In both novels, the ritual of meat-eating is seen through the eyes of female protagonists, whose own identities are entangled with the structures of thought that make that ritual possible and necessary. In Woolf’s novel, the most important scene in the novel centres around a dinner of Boeuf en Daube. In Taylor’s wartime novel, by contrast, such a dinner can only be imagined: rationing has thrown into question the intimate, grisly realities of the sacrificial structures to which Derrida refers.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrian Tait
    • 1
  1. 1.BathUK

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