Gower Bibliography

John Gower's Continuity in the Tradition of French Fin' Amor

Calin, William. "John Gower's Continuity in the Tradition of French Fin' Amor." Mediaevalia 16 (1993), pp. 91-111.

Review

examines CB and CA from the perspective of French medieval love poetry, and finds in both cases that Gower's work is oversimplified when it is viewed merely as a rejection of fin' amor. The French poetry that Gower drew upon itself was more complex, more self-reflexive and self-critical, than such a judgment implies, he argues. But Gower's work too is also rich and complex. Calin offers a brief examination of CB, emphasizing its diversity of theme and its attempt to reconcile fin' amor and marriage, pointing out where Gower adheres to and departs from the conventions of his French predecessors. He also emphasizes the Frenchness of CA, and sees Gower as the "disciple" of Jean de Meun, Machaut, and Froissart, adopting rather than repudiating the "French courtly vision" in his complex, sophisticated and above all humorous way of treating questions of love. Calin gives a lengthy discussion of the comic potential generated by the juxtaposition of the penitential with the erotic, by the use (and misuse) of exempla, and by the contradictions inherent in the figures of Genius and Amans, giving particular attention to the ending of the poem. Like his most important French predecessors and also like his friend Chaucer, he concludes, Gower "emphasizes discrepancies," and creates a "comic masterpiece" which sums up "two centuries of courtly debate on man, woman, and desire" (p. 109). [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 13.1]

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Guest issue edite by Robert F. Yeager.
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Cinkante Balades
Confessio Amantis

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