Eating English Masculinity: Food and the Figure of the Foxhunter in R. S. Surtees’ Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities

R. S. Surtees’ Jorrocks is compared to the epitome of corpulent English masculinity in the text when he is described as ‘John Bull-like’ and this paper will examine exactly how this specific type of masculinity is manifested within the ‘well-rounded limbs’ of the foxhunter. As well as interrogating how Jorrocks’ body engages with the discourses of English nationhood it will also discuss how his diet reflects his status because Jorrocks literally consumes Englishness through the vast quantities of food he ingests. His meals are made up of Victorian staples such as mock-turtle soup and are heavily meat-based, as the text is punctuated by his frequent consumption of beefsteak and mutton in-between bouts of foxhunting. This glut of food becomes manifested in Jorrocks’ largesse and this paper will argue that through his dietary choices and his corpulent body he is representative of a particular form of English masculinity. This sense of the character’s Englishness is illuminated further when he visits France. This is where his diet is thrown into confusion due to his inability to contemplate the consumption of foreign foodstuffs and so he refuses the variety of beef dishes available to him, insisting on roast beef instead. This episode will facilitate my discussion on how diet is a means to represent nationhood and it will, therefore, examine the significance of food and its relationship to English masculinity and identity.

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