The Poetic Voices of John Gower

February 2014
328 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Publications of the John Gower Society
ISBN: 9781843843399
Format: Hardback
Library eBook

The Poetic Voices of John Gower

Politics and Personae in the Confessio Amantis

Matthew W. Irvin

An examination of Gower's skilful deployment of personae in his works, showing the parallels between the way he treats love, and the way he treats politics.
Gower's use of the persona, the figure of the writer implicated in the text, is the main theme of this book. While it traces the development of Gower's voice through his major works, it concentrates on the dialogue of Amans and Genius in the Confessio Amantis. It argues that Gower negotiates problems of politics and problems of love by means of an analogy between political ethics and the rules of fin amour; Amans and Genius are both drawn from and occupied with amatory and ethical traditions, and their discourse produces a series of attempts to find a coherent and rational union of lover and ruler.
The volume also argues that Gower's goal is poetic as well as political: through the personae, Gower's readers experience the pains and pleasures of erotic and social love. Gower's personae voice potential responses to exemplary experience, prompting readers to feel and to judge, and moving them to become better lovers and better rulers. Gower's analogy between fin amour and politics brings the affects of the lover to the action of government, and suggests for both love and rule the moderation that brings peace and joy.

Matthew W. Irvin is Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Chair of the Medieval Studies Program at Sewanee.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Making and Doing Love
The Inheritance of the Confessio Amantis
The Orientation of the Prologue
Amorous Persons
Pity and the Feminine
Labor and Art
Alienation and Value
The Love of Kings
Conclusion: Identifying Amans


Irvin's study is wide-ranging, learned, and productive. By encompassing Gower's major works while attending to many divergent aspects of the Confessio, this book has much to offer future readers and scholars of Gowerian poetics. JOURNAL OF ENGLISH AND GERMANIC PHILOLOGY

Gower scholarship has, to some extent, suffered precisely because of the multilingual nature of Gower's texts, with the bulk of scholarship focusing upon his Middle English Confessio; Irvin's study not only benefits from but revels in that complexity. MODERN PHILOLOGY

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