Gower Bibliography

Petrarchanism in the Confessio Amantis

Wood, Chauncey. "Petrarchanism in the Confessio Amantis." Mediaevalia 16 (1993), pp. 239-256.


This essay is not concerned, as might be expected from the title, either with Gower's lyrics or with Petrarch's, but instead draws a broader comparison between CA as a whole and Petrarch's own definition of his life and career as contained in his "Letter to Posterity." Despite the great differences in form between these two works, Wood asserts that their general aims are the same: the denunciation of the vanity of youthful pleasure, and the diminution of all earthly rewards as compared to heavenly. More specific details reinforce the impression of a common heritage: similar imagery to describe the departure from love, similar addresses to posterity, and similar modesty topoi. Petrarch's letter ends inconclusively, however, while he is still in a restless state of wandering. To account for this and some other differences in CA, Wood turns to Augustine's Confessions, with its case history of the author's own life and its movement from restlessness to rest. Rather than being merely reductive, Wood concludes, the similarities to these two earlier works suggest some of the ways in which Gower tried to create something different and better, following precisely Petrarch's counsel on a poet's use of his sources. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 13.1]

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

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