Gower Bibliography

Feigned Truth and Exemplary Method in the Confessio Amantis.

Batchelor, Patricia. "Feigned Truth and Exemplary Method in the Confessio Amantis." In Re-visoning Gower. Ed. Yeager, R.F.. Ashville, NC: Pegasus Press, 1998, pp. 1-15.


Examines the relation between in Latin gloss and vernacular tale in CA, using "Florent" and "Diogenes and Alexander" as principle examples. The glosses, with their invocation of the formal ordinatio and learned auctoritas of the scholastic tradition, both authorize the vernacular text and, in the very difference in language and position, subvert it. Gower exploits the paradoxical relation in order to win auctoritas for his poem even while placing the value of auctoritas itself in question. The tale of Florent offers a dramatic demonstration of its lesson on obedience, and Genius' concluding comments emphasize its didactic function. The gloss validates the tale in two ways: it carefully situates the tale in the poem's ordinatio; but paradoxically, it also emphasizes the most romance-like elements of the plot, the bewitching and restoration of the princess, lending validation, by its own language and lineage, to a vernacular literary form that by definition lacks auctoritas. The juxtaposition of two different interpretive strategies itself turns the tale into a philosophical puzzle which valorizes Gower's choice of the vernacular. In "Diogenes and Alexander," the tale recapitulates the choice offered between text and margin. Alexander is delighted to learn of the reputation of his teacher, but Diogenes dismisses his adulation, demonstrating his wisdom by his exercise of plain reason. The gloss authorizes the tale, but in its brevity, fails to displace it. The tale "confirms its own auctoritas by challenging the presumption of the commentary to act as an authorizing agent" (p. 14), a process that the commentary abets; and while the ME text depends on the Latin for its credibility, Gower foregrounds the issue of auctoritas in such as way as to appropriate authority for his vernacular text. [PN. Copright The John Gower Society. JGN 18.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Confessio Amantis
Manuscripts and Textual Studies

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