Gower Bibliography

Remembering Origins: Gower's Monstrous Body Poetic.

Salisbury, Eve. "Remembering Origins: Gower's Monstrous Body Poetic." In Re-visioning Gower. Ed. Yeager, R.F.. Charlotte, NC: Pegasus Press, 1998, pp. 159-184.


VC is a monster, Salisbury asserts in its defense. Against those who have resisted both its patchwork use of extracts from many sources and its lack of adhesion to a single generic model, she sees it as an artfully constructed assemblage, a new, monstrous body formed from the dismembered bodies of the past, serving both "mostrare" and "monere," to show and to warn about, the monstrous political structures from which the monstrous events of 1381 arose. This is another essay that is impossible to summarize with any justice. It combines a close reading of chosen passages, calculated to show how Gower has selected his sources and how he has both altered the context of the lines he has borrowed and also invoked the context in which they first appeared, with a bold re-vision of the form of the entire poem, which she supports by reference to etymology, to Gower's use of the "body" of the statue of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and to the illustrations of the archer shooting at the world found in several of the MSS. She also, of course, invokes the analogy of other literary models, including RR and the Cento Vergilianus de Laudibus Christi of Faltonia Betitia Proba, whose importance to VC was first noted by R.F. Yeager. Salisbury has gone much further than Yeager in linking Gower's formal procedure to the subject and content of his poem. Her essay is bold and thought-provoking, and repeatedly challenges us to take a fresh and more thoughtful look at VC. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 18.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Vox Clamantis

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