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Pancake Day/Mardi Gras

Pancake Day/Mardi Gras

Shrove Tuesday is celebrated in different ways around the world; in the UK, we eat pancakes but in New Orleans, today is the last day of Carnival.

Posted on 9th February 2016 by Sally Campbell

Tonight is the climax of the Carnival season in New Orleans: Mardi Gras, which is set to be a vibrant, raucous, and rhythm-filled night. People will drink cocktails and dance in the street. Of course, over here, we will be flipping pancakes, but the origins of both celebrations are the same.

Traditionally, Christians celebrated Shrove Tuesday by eating the last of their rich foods before Lent , the six weeks of fasting and repentance that ends at Easter. Before this long period of discipline, Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, was the last chance to feast.

Holding a carnival stems from Roman times, when the period from Epiphany to Lent was a time for celebrating music and theatre, they slaughtered a fattened calf on the last night of their Carnival. In New Orleans today, Mardi Gras is an explosion of culture, a masquerade ball in the street and a time to celebrate the resilience of a city still recovering, 11 years later, from Hurricane Katrina.

Today, we thought, was the perfect excuse to celebrate the literature, music and history of New Orleans. Happy Mardi Gras.

Literature



A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

This comic masterpiece, which won the Pulitzer Prize, is famed for its depiction of New Orleans, its exuberant people and its many dialects.


The Moviegoer – Walker Percy

Percy is a major voice of Southern Literature, and this is his dazzling debut; the novel is set in New Orleans and captures Mardi Gras in the 1950’s.

The Awakening - Kate Chopin

Chopin’s novel, set in and around New Orleans, caused controversy on publication in 1899 – never banned, it was censored for its depiction of female desire.


Coming Through Slaughter – Michael Ondaatje

This lyrical and experimental work by Ondaatje captures the last lucid days in the life of a jazz musician, Buddy Bolden.



A Walk On The Wild Side – Nelson Algren

Algren’s cult classic is a hymn to the marginalised and the lost, it also depicts New Orleans in striking, visceral detail.



Property - Valarie Martin

Winner of the 2003 Orange Prize (now the Baileys Womens Prize for Fiction), Property ventures into the dark past of the American South; centring on the wife of a plantation owner and the slave she is given as a present, this is a moving, troubling and fascinating read.


Theatre


Vieux Carre – Tennessee Williams

Set in a dilapidated boarding house in the French Quarter of New Orleans in the 1930’s, this play depicts impoverished outcasts and society’s misfits, including an unnamed protagonist, said to be Williams himself.


Food

Treme - Lolis Eric Elie

This is the companion to the HBO television series, which dramatized the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Food is at the heart of the series and, of course, New Orleans culture. Real New Orleans chefs appeared throughout Treme and each has contributed recipes to this book, which features photography and essays on New Orleans as well.


Photography

In the Spirit – Michael P Smith

From 1970 – 2004, photographer Michael P Smith documented every aspect of the city, from its jazz funerals to its elaborate Mardi Gras costumes. This book is a collection of his remarkable photography.

Music

Empire of Sin - Gary Krist

Take a walk through New Orleans of the 1920’s, a time described as the city's other Civil War – a seedy era of organised crime, decadent vices and brilliant music.

Talking New Orleans Music – Burt Feintuch

"In New Orleans, music screams. It honks. It blats. It wails. It purrs. It messes with time. It messes with pitch. It messes with your feet. It messes with your head." This comprehensive history of the Birthplace of Jazz spans before and after Katrina; read the vivid lives of the peculiar, obscure musicians and well-loved stars that made the city what it is today.

New Atlantis – John Swenson

A new title in New Orleans music history, New Atlantis charts the post-Katrina era, showing how music has helped heal its people and rebuild the city.

 

Voodoo
 

The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook - Kenaz Filan

Written by an initiated Voodoo priest, Kenaz Filan, this book illuminates New Orleans’ spiritual tradition of Voodoo, a religion as complex and free-form as Jazz. Discover the truth behind the many, sinister legends.

Related books

Moviegoer (Paperback)

Moviegoer (Paperback)

Walker Percy

The portrait of a New Orleans stockbroker, Binx Bolling, turning thirty and caught between ennui and a need for redemption through women, family or personal revelation, 'The Moviegoer' won the National Book Award in the USA on its first publication in 1961.

£9.99
A Confederacy of Dunces - Penguin Modern Classics (Paperback)

A Confederacy of Dunces - Penguin Modern Classics (Paperback)

John Kennedy Toole, Walker Percy




4 Reviews

The ordinary folk of New Orleans seem to think he is unhinged as well. Ignatius ignores them as he heaves his vast bulk through the city's fleshpots in a noble crusade against vice, modernity and ignorance. But his momma has a nasty surprise in store for him.

£8.99
Coming through Slaughter (Paperback)

Coming through Slaughter (Paperback)

Michael Ondaatje

A novel of the Jazz Age.

£9.99
The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook (Paperback)

The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook (Paperback)

Kenaz Filan

A guide to the practices, tools, and rituals of New Orleans Voodoo as well as the many cultural influences at its origins.

£16.99
New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans (Paperback)

New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans (Paperback)

John Swenson

At its most intimate, music heals our emotional wounds and inspires us; at its most public, it unites people across cultural boundaries. But can it rebuild a city? Renowned music writer John Swenson asks that question in this account of America's most colorful and troubled city and its indominable will to survive.

£13.49
Property (Paperback)

Property (Paperback)

Valerie Martin

* Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2003. * A powerful, startling novel set in America's Deep South in the early 19th century - a story of freedom, both political and personal.

£8.99
The Awakening (Paperback)

The Awakening (Paperback)

Kate Chopin

The Pontellier family are spending a hot, lazy holiday on the Gulf of Mexico. No-one expects that Edna Pontellier should be preoccupied with anything more than her husband and children. When an illicit summer romance awakens new ideas and longings in Edna, she can barely understand herself.

£8.99
Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans (Hardback)

Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans (Hardback)

Lolis Eric Elie, Ed Anderson, David Simon, Anthony Bourdain

A companion cookbook to the HBO series Treme, with Over 100 recipes that celebrate New Orleans Cooking.

£18.99
A Walk on the Wild Side (Paperback)

A Walk on the Wild Side (Paperback)

Nelson Algren, Richard Flanagan

Dove Findhorn is a naive country boy who busts out of Hicksville, Texas in pursuit of a better life in New Orleans. Amongst the downtrodden prostitutes, bootleggers and hustlers of the old French Quarter, Dove finds only hopelessness, crime and despair. His quest uncovers a harrowing grotesque of the American Dream.

£9.99
Vieux Carre (Paperback)

Vieux Carre (Paperback)

Tennessee Williams, Robert Bray

£9.99
Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder and the Battle for New Orleans (Paperback)

Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder and the Battle for New Orleans (Paperback)

Gary Krist

A sensational history of love, politics and corruption in the Jazz Age

£9.99
Talking New Orleans Music: Crescent City Musicians Talk About Their Lives, Their Music, and Their City - American Made Music Series (Hardback)

Talking New Orleans Music: Crescent City Musicians Talk About Their Lives, Their Music, and Their City - American Made Music Series (Hardback)

Burt Feintuch, Professor Burt Feintuch, Gary Samson

Interviews with and beautiful photography of eleven great musicians and their inspiring city

£37.50