Modern and Contemporary Literature

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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The iconic sweet in modern literature is surely Marcel Proust’s madeleine, the very crumbs of which call forth “the vast structure of recollection” that inspires his novel In Search of Lost Time. See madeleine. The association between sweets and memory runs strongly through twentieth-century literature, perhaps partly because of the increasing availability of sweets in childhood, which helped inspire sugary structures of recollection in adult writers. M. F. K. Fisher, another master of the connection between food and memory, opens her memoir The Gastronomical Me with a meditation on eating “the grayish-pink fuzz” from a kettle of strawberry jam, and evokes the childhood passion for sweets throughout her work.