Carding with Covetousness in Piers Plowman

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In the third vision of Piers Plowman, Dame Study compares the commodification of knowledge by friars and minstrels to wool carding: ‘Wisdom and wit now is noȝt worþ a kerse,/ But if it be carded wiþ coueitise as cloþeres kemben hire wolle’ (B.10.17-18). Recent editions of the poem explain these lines as a reference to the process of carding raw wool in preparation for spinning. This note, however, argues that preparatory carding is an incongruous metaphor for the commodification of knowledge, and argues that Study’s simile refers instead to a different stage in the production of woollen cloth, where clothiers would card the finished material to raise a fine ‘nap’ of soft fibres on the surface.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-8
Number of pages4
JournalNotes and Queries
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

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