Gower Bibliography

Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale: Teaching Through the Sources

Rose, Christine M.. "Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale: Teaching Through the Sources." College Literature 28 (2001), pp. 155-77.

Review

This essay actually has little to say about Gower but it is included here because it shows up as pertaining to Gower in the periodical indexes, e.g. MLA's. It appears in this issue of CL as one of a group of essays on "Teaching Medieval Women." In teaching MLT, Rose uses the comparison to Trevet's version, which she considers Chaucer's "primary" source (157), in order to uncover how Chaucer has constructed his version of the story. What she finds is that Chaucer's principal alterations are all "gender- and power-related" (159) and that "Chaucer has systematically disempowered his heroine 'Custance,' and made her more 'feminized' (here read 'passive') and more reliant upon the power of God for her authority and her worldly fortune" (158). In the main part of her essay she demonstrates the validity of this reading by examining selected excerpts from MLT and from Trevet, taken from her own forthcoming edition of the early fifteenth-century English prose translation of his work. Gower is thus very much on the periphery. Rose assumes that Chaucer used Gower's version too, but "the changes Chaucer made to Trevet highlighted in this essay as sites of feminist inquiry about how the poet writes about a Christian woman overcoming a pagan world are not in Gower's work" (173). When she does suggest to her students an examination of Gower's version, she describes it as "streamlined and straightforward" where Chaucer's is "rhetorically complex," and as shaped by Gower's intention to provide an exemplum on Envy (160; also 173). [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 20.2]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations

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