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Literaturwurst or the fine art of sausages made from books


I’d like to introduce a new genre to both bookselling and cooked meat – it’s called Literaturwurst.

I give you German artist Dieter Roth, who apparently created around 50 ‘literature sausages’, according to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which put on a Dieter Roth exhibition earlier this year.

To make each sausage Roth followed a traditional recipe, but with one crucial twist: where the recipe called for ground pork, veal, or beef, he substituted a ground-up book or magazine. Roth mixed the ground-up texts with fat, gelatin, water, and spices before stuffing them into sausage casings. The source materials included work by authors and periodicals that the artist either envied or despised; they run the gamut from lowbrow illustrated tabloids to well-regarded contemporary German novels to the works of Karl Marx and the influential philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

So I can eat a book? In a sausage? I wonder what Marx wurst tastes like… probably a little dry. I imagine Hegel sausage as quite herby. I’d like to see Fifty Shades of Grey stuffed into a sausage casing – that would be perhaps a little tasteless.

MOMA also published a book to support the exhibition – Wait, Later This Will Be Nothing: Editions by Dieter Roth, which details Roth’s work in painting, sculpture, film, video, postcards and books, including the experimental art of book flavoured sausage.

The book focuses on the Roth’s prolific period between 1960 and 1972, and offers a fascinating perspective on how organic materials can be incorporated into modern art.

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