Cannibalistic Delights: Human Consumption in Contemporary German Literature

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Was weiß man schon über Menschenfresser?
Fressen sie Mensch, wie sich's gehört, mit Gabel und Messer?
What does one really know about cannibals?
Do they eat people, as it is proper, with fork and knife?)

Erich Kästner, "Über Antropophagie und Bildungshunger")

Few other topics generate the same amount of simultaneous revulsion and fascination as cannibalism. Eating other human beings is certainly the biggest and most universal taboo in food consumption. And despite the often-repeated truism "Der Mensch ist, was er isst," one is what one eats, eating humans does not make a person human.1 On the contrary, the mere thought of this transgression seems indicative of the most inhuman behavior imaginable. Peter Hulme, in his study of colonial encounters, states: "Human beings who eat other human beings have always been placed on the very borders of humanity" (14). Cannibals, whether real or just imagined, instill fear, horror, and revulsion. And yet, despite and because of its shock value, cannibalism has been and continues to be a topic of endless fascination.