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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

Chapter 5 - ‘Honey secrets’


This chapter asks how the early modern association of eroticism with sweetness, and romantic betrayal with bitterness, correlates to the affiliation between taste and knowledge described in preceding chapters. I suggest that authors including Richard Barnfield, Shakespeare, and Thomas Carew forge links between sensual pleasure and non-ratiocinative epistemologies, using the bitter/sweet opposition to endorse a rhetorical conception of knowledge as innately relational. Erotic experience is reconceptualised as a source of epistemological mastery, and the language of taste emerges as instrumental within what Faramerz Dabhoiwala terms the seventeenth-century ‘sexual revolution’.

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