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The Swetenesse of Confection: A Recipe for Spiritual Health in London, British Library, Additional MS 61823, The Book of Margery Kempe

Laura Kalas Orcid Logo

Studies in the Age of Chaucer, Volume: 40, Issue: 1, Pages: 155 - 190

Swansea University Author: Laura Kalas Orcid Logo

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DOI (Published version): 10.1353/sac.2018.0003

Abstract

The topos of spiritual joy and intoxication has its roots in a long tradition of mystical discourse on sweetness, as seen in Richard Rolle’s emphasis on dulcor as central for spiritual amelioration. The myriad references to God’s swetenesse in The Book of Margery Kempe illustrate the sensual viscera...

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Published in: Studies in the Age of Chaucer
ISSN: 1949-0755
Published: St Louis, USA Project Muse 2018
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa38947
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spelling 2020-07-13T14:31:08.6039441 v2 38947 2018-03-05 The Swetenesse of Confection: A Recipe for Spiritual Health in London, British Library, Additional MS 61823, The Book of Margery Kempe d784397e2866abd965de628a788b29b5 0000-0002-2668-3335 Laura Kalas Laura Kalas true false 2018-03-05 AELC The topos of spiritual joy and intoxication has its roots in a long tradition of mystical discourse on sweetness, as seen in Richard Rolle’s emphasis on dulcor as central for spiritual amelioration. The myriad references to God’s swetenesse in The Book of Margery Kempe illustrate the sensual viscerality of Kempe’s spiritual experience. To evoke the swete sounds, smells, and tastes of rapture helps her to go some way towards describing the ineffable, since the metaphor of the sweetness of Christ holds deep, symbolic value. The meaning of swetenesse is at once sensory, emotive, and figurative. Bartholomaeus Anglicus noted that sweet flavours are pure “by kynde [nature]”, and beneficial for bodily health. Sweetness is also, then, therapeutic. The contents of the faded recipe, annotated at the end of British Library, Additional MS 61823 by a late fifteenth-century or early sixteenth-century reader of The Book of Margery Kempe, are revealed here; and show to be for medicinal sweets. The recipe’s redolence with such significations of confection, sweetness, and spiritual health resonate with Kempe’s trajectory towards divine love and eschatological perfection. Her ‘confection’ with Christ is frequently described as a “swet dalyawnce”. The recipe’s inclusion in the manuscript gestures towards the curative nature of the Book, both for Kempe who lives the narrative, and for her readers, who are edified by the healing words of the text. Journal Article Studies in the Age of Chaucer 40 1 155 190 Project Muse St Louis, USA 1949-0755 Margery Kempe, sweetness, manuscript, recipe, confection, dragges, medicine, divine love, dalliance, senses, synaesthesia, health, cure, mysticism, spices, illness, Mariae medica 1 1 2018 2018-01-01 10.1353/sac.2018.0003 http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/sac.2018.0003 COLLEGE NANME English Literature COLLEGE CODE AELC Swansea University 2020-07-13T14:31:08.6039441 2018-03-05T15:43:32.7404838 College of Arts and Humanities English Literature and Creative Writing Laura Kalas 0000-0002-2668-3335 1 0038947-03122018115553.pdf 38947.pdf 2018-12-03T11:55:53.2970000 Output 742268 application/pdf Accepted Manuscript true 2018-12-31T00:00:00.0000000 true eng
title The Swetenesse of Confection: A Recipe for Spiritual Health in London, British Library, Additional MS 61823, The Book of Margery Kempe
spellingShingle The Swetenesse of Confection: A Recipe for Spiritual Health in London, British Library, Additional MS 61823, The Book of Margery Kempe
Laura Kalas
title_short The Swetenesse of Confection: A Recipe for Spiritual Health in London, British Library, Additional MS 61823, The Book of Margery Kempe
title_full The Swetenesse of Confection: A Recipe for Spiritual Health in London, British Library, Additional MS 61823, The Book of Margery Kempe
title_fullStr The Swetenesse of Confection: A Recipe for Spiritual Health in London, British Library, Additional MS 61823, The Book of Margery Kempe
title_full_unstemmed The Swetenesse of Confection: A Recipe for Spiritual Health in London, British Library, Additional MS 61823, The Book of Margery Kempe
title_sort The Swetenesse of Confection: A Recipe for Spiritual Health in London, British Library, Additional MS 61823, The Book of Margery Kempe
author_id_str_mv d784397e2866abd965de628a788b29b5
author_id_fullname_str_mv d784397e2866abd965de628a788b29b5_***_Laura Kalas
author Laura Kalas
author2 Laura Kalas
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description The topos of spiritual joy and intoxication has its roots in a long tradition of mystical discourse on sweetness, as seen in Richard Rolle’s emphasis on dulcor as central for spiritual amelioration. The myriad references to God’s swetenesse in The Book of Margery Kempe illustrate the sensual viscerality of Kempe’s spiritual experience. To evoke the swete sounds, smells, and tastes of rapture helps her to go some way towards describing the ineffable, since the metaphor of the sweetness of Christ holds deep, symbolic value. The meaning of swetenesse is at once sensory, emotive, and figurative. Bartholomaeus Anglicus noted that sweet flavours are pure “by kynde [nature]”, and beneficial for bodily health. Sweetness is also, then, therapeutic. The contents of the faded recipe, annotated at the end of British Library, Additional MS 61823 by a late fifteenth-century or early sixteenth-century reader of The Book of Margery Kempe, are revealed here; and show to be for medicinal sweets. The recipe’s redolence with such significations of confection, sweetness, and spiritual health resonate with Kempe’s trajectory towards divine love and eschatological perfection. Her ‘confection’ with Christ is frequently described as a “swet dalyawnce”. The recipe’s inclusion in the manuscript gestures towards the curative nature of the Book, both for Kempe who lives the narrative, and for her readers, who are edified by the healing words of the text.
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