The Seven Deadly Sins in Literature

Today marks the release of Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins, a portrait of a woman obsessed with food and the efforts (or non-efforts) of her family to get her eating under control. We can say pretty confidently that the book made us never want to overeat again, and we got to thinking about the other books that make us want to give up our vices. After all, any sin you can dream up has probably been written about, usually by someone French. After the jump, find examples of the seven deadly sins in literature (whether actually deadly or just unfortunate). Indulge in a little naughtiness-by-proxy, and then let us know which sinful characters we missed in the comments.


The Middlesteins

Jami Attenberg’s excellent new novel makes us never want to pig out again. In it, Edie, the matriarch of a Midwestern Jewish family, is obsessed with food, and is eating herself to death as her family swirls around her in various states of distress. Only in America.


In Frank Herbert’s science fiction epic, Baron Harkonnen is so fat that he requires anti-gravity generators to be sewn into his clothing in order to keep him upright. Not a good end in and of itself, if you ask us.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Oh, Augustus Gloop. When eating is your only hobby (and anyway, it’s better than being a “hooligan”), of course you’re going to end up with “fat bulging from every fold, with two greedy eyes peering out of [your] doughball of a face.” Though actually, getting sucked down into the chocolate river turns out to be a not too bad diet technique.