These crustaceans

Have you ever seen such an enormous mouth-watering crab? I’m not the sort to take pictures of food, but this certainly took the cake! Thankfully I was with small eaters Jason and Jong Yann, and I could relish a large proportion of this crab all to myself. The place: Mellben Crab at Blk 232, Ang Mo Ko Ave 3.

Hail to the crab, which like the lobster, doesn’t bark and knows the secret of the sea…

Anyhow, while eating this (since Jason was concentrating on his plate), I was also thinking of Eliot’s phrase from “Love Song of Alfred J Prufock”, where there is a famous mention of a sea creature: “I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”  But do these claws refer to a crab or lobster? or neither? The academic brouhaha about the image is a real hoot. Just read the following:

Claude Rawson, professor of English at Yale University: “I think it’s almost certain that Eliot was thinking of a crab. After all, the poem invokes Prince Hamlet, who once spun a crab metaphor of his own: ‘For you yourself, sir, should be as old as I am–if, like a crab, you could go backward.’

Richard Poirier, eminent literary critic, insists lobster: “crabs are endowed only with rudimentary claws, when they have them at all,” and concluded that “these are most likely the claws specifically of a Maine lobster.

Louis Menand, professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center: Definitely lobster. Crab claws are too prehensile anyway for the sexual misery ‘Prufrock’ means to evoke and not nearly funny enough. (I could never have guessed, Prof) Lobster claws are a witty variation on Tennyson’s super-eroticized hands in In Memoriam: swollen with longing but clumsy and vaguely mutant, desiring but undesired.

Positively hilarious, all this much ado about a crab!

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