Gower Bibliography

Two Routes to Pleasant Instruction in Late-Fourteenth Century Literature

Westrem, Scott D.. "Two Routes to Pleasant Instruction in Late-Fourteenth Century Literature." In The Work of Dissimilitude: Essays from the Sixth Citadel Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Literature. Ed. Allen, David G. and White, Robert A.. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware, 1992, pp. 67-80.


One of the two routes to instruction that Westrem describes is Gower's: the allegorical frame, the signposts provides by the sins, the tales drawn from the past, the long digressions, the conscious attempt to mix "lust" with "lore." The other is provided by contemporary "travel" literature, such as "Mandeville's Travels" and a similar, slightly later "Itinerarius" attributed to Johannes Witte de Hese of Utrecht. Westrem's real interest is in the second type. Using both the similarities and the contrasts to Gower's "Confessio Amantis," Westrem demonstrates that Mandeville's work also contains a great deal of "lore," presented in a particularly artful and alluring way, in response to the critical view that holds it to be merely a plagiarized fantasy. He gives particular attention to Mandeville's tolerance and respectfulness towards non-Christian religions, his use of pagans to instruct in proper behavior, his creation of a persona, and his deliberate reshaping of his sources. Witte's work is more fanstastical, but proves the growing importance of travel literature as a means of conveying information and instruction by around 1400. The works of this genre, Westrem concludes, provide an important model for later works of satire in the form of fiction such as "Gulliver's Travels." [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 11.2]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis

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