Gower Bibliography

Gower, John

Yeager, R.F. "Gower, John." In The Spenser Encyclopedia. Ed. Hamilton, A. C., and others. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990, pp. 337-338.


Yeager summarizes here in compact form what little is known of Spenser's relationship with a poet not often included among his sources. Spenser himself never mentions Gower's name, and the evidence that he knew Gower's work is only circumstantial: at least three printed editions of Confession Amantis were available at the end of the sixteenth century, three surviving MSS are known to have been owned by Spenser's friends, and there are direct references to Gower by both Gabriel Harvey and "E.K." Yeager identifies several ways in which Gower might have provided a model for Spenser. Like Spenser, Gower was a poet of moral and of social reform; and CA resembles Faerie Queene both in conception, as a collection of moral exempla, and in execution, created by an imaginative reshaping of his sources. There are also a number of specific passages in FQ for which sources in Gower's writing have been suggested, mostly from CA, but also the procession of the Seven Deadly Sins in FQ 1, which may be based on a passage in MO. In some cases Gower is the most likely source; in others Yeager points out that there are alternate or common sources in other works that Spenser is known to have used. The list of passages that he cites does not include the episode of Amavia and Mordant discussed by Arnold Sanders (above), whose essay should now be added to the bibliography with which Yeager's article concludes. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 11.2]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Influence and Later Allusion

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata