Bartholomew Fair by Ben Jonson
The characters in Jonson’s city comedy are irresistibly drawn to the notorious fair by the prospect of eating pork. Presiding over the pig-booth is Ursula, the “pig-woman”, wise in the ways of human appetite. The puritans rage against Satan’s trickery: “You may know it by the fleshly motion of Pig, be strong against it, and its foul temptations.”
“A Dissertation upon Roast Pig” by Charles Lamb
The Romantic essayist imagines how the Chinese discovered the joys of roast pork with crackling. Once the Chinese ate their meat raw and kept pigs in their houses. Ho-ti leaves his house to be looked after by his lubberly son Bo-bo, who lets it burn to the ground. But there’s something delicious in the ashes. Eureka!
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
“Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!'” All those angelic choirboys become true primitives when they learn to hunt and kill wild pigs on the idyllic, hellish island. The Lord of the Flies – a rotting pig’s head, stuck on a stick – presides.
“View of a Pig” by Ted Hughes
“The pig lay on the barrow dead. / It weighed, they said, as much as two men.” The “thick pink bulk” of a dead porker sets the poet off on a rumination on mortality, remembering the “greased piglet” he once chased at a fair (no RSPCA meddling then). “Pigs must have hot blood, they feel like ovens.”
The Tale of Pigling Bland by Beatrix Potter
Aunt Pettitoes, a porcine matriarch, sends her troublesome offspring forth into the world. Pigling Bland is accommodated by a friendly farmer, who is scheming to turn him into bacon. Our young hero rumbles his scheme and escapes along with a beautiful sow called Pig-wig. At the end they dance for joy – free pigs in Westmoreland!
Blandings Castle stories by PG Wodehouse
Lord Emsworth cares for nothing more in the world than his prize-winning pig, the Empress of Blandings. The pig-keepers employed to tend her by the doting earl are often dodgy types, and the Empress is the target of various kidnapping schemes.
Mr Frumble books by Richard Scarry
Richard Scarry’s classic illustrated book for children is a hilarious rumination on ineptitude. Its protagonist, a pig, embodies the principle of entropy. In natty green suit and hat, he wanders through life, causing accidents everywhere. When he takes his customised “pickle car” on the roads, chaos is assured.
“Fair Chloris in a Pig-sty Lay” by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
In the naughty earl’s pastoral parody, a maiden has a kip in a pigpen and dreams of being penetrated by a fellow swineherd. She wakes to find that it is an erotic reverie, “raised by her murmuring pigs”, and that she is both “innocent and pleased”.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Which animals do duty for Stalin and his henchman? Pigs, of course. Snowball and Napoleon lead the animals’ successful revolt, but then fall out. Napoleon triumphs and rules the farm. The other animals become mere labourers, while the pigs drink whisky and become more and more like human beings.
“Moly” by Thom Gunn
Men have become pigs in Gunn’s poem, which inhabits the porcine body of one of Odysseus’s men, transformed into pigs by Circe. “Nightmare of beasthood” indeed. “Into what bulk has method disappeared? / Like ham, streaked. I am gross – grey, gross, flap-eared.” Moly is the sacred herb that will turn him back and, searching for it, “I push my big, grey, wet snout through the green”.