Gower Bibliography

'The Craft So Long to Lerne': Chaucer's Invention of the Iambic Pentameter

Duffell, Martin J.. "'The Craft So Long to Lerne': Chaucer's Invention of the Iambic Pentameter." Chaucer Review 34.3 (2000), pp. 269-288. ISSN 0009-2002

Review

Duffell documents much more fully his claim that Chaucer's model was Italian rather than French, and he also makes some rather more specific claims about Gower. He includes examples from CB under three of the types in his classification of ten-syllable lines (F, G, and H; pp. 279-82), none of which was used by medieval French poets. (This time, stresses are marked in boldface.) On the basis of the presumed early date of CB, he states that "it is probable that Gower was experimenting with this line in French at the same time as his friend Chaucer was doing so in English, in the late 1370s" (p. 279); and though he notes that Gower also employs iambic pentameters in English in IPP, he attributes Gower's use of all three verse types to an Italian model, claiming that one variant in particular "proves that Gower is here imitating an endecasillabo in French and not a Chaucerian pentameter" (p. 280). He thus refers in his conclusion to Chaucer's and Gower's "common interest in Italian versification" (p. 284). His earlier essay leads one to believe that Gower's line emerged as a direct consequence of the nature of his language. The more recent essay attributes to Gower a previously unknown familiarity with Italian, despite also observing that Chaucer's knowledge of Italian made him quite unusual for a fourteenth-century Englishman (p. 271). [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 19.2]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Style, Rhetoric, and Versification
Cinkante Balades

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