An extraordinary idea: a minstrel of defeat, and even more so when used to describe an unpleasant smell of cooking.  Later, Hoban uses the smell of cooking to describe the pervasiveness of voices carried on the air.  He also refers to smell as a carrier of memory.

‘In the corridors a smell of cooking wandered like a minstrel of defeat.’

Source: Russell Hoban, The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (London: Picador, 1979), p. 151

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