John Gower's Sweet Tooth

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7 Scopus citations


In his major works, John Gower deployed sensory activities to typify the inadequacies of the estates in his critique of English society, but he found in the taste of sweetness and in gustatory delicacies in general an especially fitting sensory reflex to characterize the specific corruption of those in the ecclesiastical ranks. The potential ambiguities of 'sweetness' are, thus, disambiguated in Gower's criticism of the ecclesiastical 'sweet tooth', a phrase he invented. In making this criticism, Gower pointed to the failure of the ecclesiastical estate to live up to its gustatory norms by indulging in fine food and a sweet taste. Although Gower draws on conventional sentiments in his critique of the ecclesiastical sensorium, by the later fourteenth century the fashion of sweetening food, especially with sugar, had become prevalent enough in England to make his comments on clerical sweetness timely and appropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-769
Number of pages18
JournalReview of English Studies
Issue number267
StatePublished - Nov 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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