Gower Bibliography

Love, Nature and Law in the Poetry of Gower and Chaucer.

Collins, Marie. "Love, Nature and Law in the Poetry of Gower and Chaucer." In Court and Poet: Selected Proceedings of the Third Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society (Liverpool 1980). Ed. Burgess, Glyn S. ARCA (5). Liverpool: Cairns, 1981, pp. 113-128. ISBN 0905205065


"This paper explores an aspect of the traditional conflict between love and Nature on the one hand and reason on the other, in the poetry of Chaucer and Gower. It examines the special circumstances made by legal language and imagery in our awareness of the plight of medieval lovers. Both poets are commpassionately aware that in the irrational state of romantic love 'immortal longings' can be confused with powerful natural impulses; the deluded lover comes to believe that transitory temporal pleasure is transcendent eternal beatitude, and both poets challenge us to consider the essential quality of law and its appropriatness as a metaphoric vehicle for human emotions and physical drives. Legal metaphors for love are common and, on the surface, conventional. This paper attempts to show that they are nonetheless neither dead nor commonplace by examining them i) in the light of medieval theology and philosophy of law and ii) in the light of their frequent juxtaposition with terms recalling the rationality which distinguishes man from the beasts. Beginning with a short passage from each poet which raises essential questions, this paper moves to a short exposition of medieval legal theory and then returns to the poets to explore in more detail the crtical implications of that theory." [Summary by author. JGN 2.2]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Language and Word Studies
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations

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