John Gower, Poetry and Propaganda in Fourteenth-Century England

July 2012
254 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Publications of the John Gower Society
ISBN: 9781843843153
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT011000, LIT014000, LIT004120

John Gower, Poetry and Propaganda in Fourteenth-Century England

David R. Carlson

John Gower's works examined as part of a tradition of "official" writings on behalf of the Crown.
John Gower has been criticised for composing verse propaganda for the English state, in support of the regime of Henry IV, at the end of his distinguished career. However, as the author of this book shows, using evidence from Gower's English, French and Latin poems alongside contemporary state papers, pamphlet-literature, and other historical prose, Gower was not the only medieval writer to be so employed in serving a monarchy's goals. Professor Carlson also argues that Gower's late poetry is the apotheosis of the fourteenth-century tradition of state-official writing which lay at the origin of the literary Renaissance in Ricardian and Lancastrian England.

David Carlson is Professor in the Department of English, University of Ottawa.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Gower in History
Official Verse: The Sources and Problems of Evidence
The State Propaganda
Occasions of State and Propagandistic Verse in Mid-Century
Walter Peterborough's Victoria belli in Hispania [1367] and its Official Source
Compulsion in Richard Maidstone's Concordia [1392]
Official Writing at the Lancastrian Advent
English Poetry in Late Summer 1399
The Cronica tripertita and its Official Source
Gower after the Revolution: Client and Critic


2013 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

David Carlson has written a book that contributes enormously to our knowledge of the dynamics of late-medieval literary patronage in general and to our understanding of John Gower's relationship to Richard II and Henry IV in particular. In its detailed exposition of difficult verse texts it stands as a model for literary scholars, and in its nuanced elucidation of contemporary responses to political events (especially the Lancastrian usurpation), it offers some valuable lessons for the historian as well. SPECULUM

An important book for everyone interested in political writing - argued, as one would expect from Carson, on the basis of a wealth of detail which is submitted to skeptical scrutiny. MEDIUM AEVUM

A crucial addition to the history of ways in which literary production and politics were interconnected in fourteenth-century England. PARERGON

A game-changing study. ... An outstanding inquiry, blending source study, political criticism, and sensitive analyses. ... Highly recommended. CHOICE

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