A Serbian Parable in Either/Or II

As a seminar at St. Olaf, we are reading through Either/Or part II right now. I realize it’s a cumbersome text, but to be honest I actually enjoy reading it more than many it seems. It’s not my first time through, but for some reason this parable either never struck me before or I unfortunately forgot it. It comes at the end of the first portion of the section entitled “Esthetic Validity of Marriage.”

The Serbs have a legend that tells about an enormous giant who has an equally enormous appetite. He comes to a poor peasant and wants to share his noon meal. The peasant sets out the humble best his house can manage. The giant’s greedy eyes have already devoured it and have correctly surmised that he would be just as hungry if he actually had eaten it. They sit down to the table. It never occurs to the peasant that there would not be enough for both of them. The giant reaches for the dish; the peasant stops him with the words: It is the custom in my house to begin with a prayer. The giant acquiesces, and lo, there is enough for both of them. (153, Hong Edition)

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