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One of the biggest shocks people unfamiliar with the fact might recieve is the the truth about Chinese cannibalism. Often seen as the act of only primitive cultures, cannibalism has been seen throughout Chinese history (and subsequentally literature) as many things: an act of sacrifice, an act of desperation, and even in many cases a near daily act. This requires readers to take in to account Chinese thought and forces one to bend their views of culture to "accept" the act through a Chinese context at times, but also makes one realize that cannibalism itself is seen in Chinese thought (or, it should be said, parts of Chinese thought) as part of "eating" overall. It should also be noted that this was one part of Chinese culture that did not disseminate to its neighbors.
The theme of eating in literature is an interesting one, in particular in connection with China, a country which has taken eating and prepairing food to every extreem imaginable over the course of its history. What can be gleened in terms of "society" or even "politics" is up to interpretation, and it should not be forgotten that this book is focused mostly on writing and not on history. For those after an interesting read into a "theme" in literature, this is a good book to look at. It may also serve as a springboard into studies of history and society by following the paths lain out in the names and footnotes.