Salt, says Peter Handke, is like strong emotions such as love, anger or madness, in that it is an element »with which the great old tales are told, and without which there would be no stories at all«. This book is all about these great stories in which salt plays a part: we are told of the unhappy princess who is banished by her father for comparing her love for him to salt; of Ulysses, who is supposed to travel all the way to the people who have never heard of salt; of lonely Simplicius, who is forced to make do entirely without salt in the wild forest; and then there’s Dürrenmatt’s stinging salt, that is intended to burn in the world’s open wounds. In five chapters, divided according to themes – natural salts, faith salts, language salts, body salts and relationship salts – Thomas Strässle follows the traces of this white gold throughout literary history, from its first appearances to the present day. The spectrum reaches from the Old Testament to Paul Celan, from Homer to Durs Grünbein, from Cicero to Peter Weiss – and shows the incredible significance and wide variety of meanings that literary texts attribute to this elemental substance.
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