Gower Bibliography

Humane and Divine Love in Chaucer and Gower

Crépin, André. "Humane and Divine Love in Chaucer and Gower." In A Wyf Ther Was: Essays in Honour of Paule Mertens-Fonck. Ed. Dor, Juliette. Liége: L3 – Liége Language and Literature, Département d’anglais, Université de Liége, 1992, pp. 71-79.


In the final stanzas of T&C Chaucer brutally shatters the reconciliation between love of God and the love inspired by Nature that had evidently been achieved at the highest moment of the poem in Book 3. Crépin compares Chaucer's "palinode" to CA *8.3088-114, in which Gower too describes a movement from earthly to heavenly love, and he argues that Chaucer is responding to Gower here: that Chaucer "took up the challenge" of Gower's suggestion that Chaucer say farewell to love poetry in CA *8.2941-57 by going further than Gower himself in his radical condemnation of human love. In doing so, he "out-Gowers Gower"; and in his condemnation of "the forme of olde clerkes speche / In poetrie" (T&C 5.1854-55), he also attacks the entire structure of CA as well as material of his own poem. Gower responded in turn in the revised version of CA: he dropped the allusion to Chaucer, and the anaphora of one passage of the rewritten epilogue (CA 8.3165-67) appears to be in imitation of Chaucer's use of the same device in T&C 5.1828ff and 5.1849ff. The comparison of these two works brings out some of the differences between the poets: "Gower contrasts the two kinds of love but does not set them in opposition to one another or suggest that once excludes the other," while Chaucer "makes the opposition complete and allows room for compromise." His more radical position may reflect actual belief, but is also calculated to "tease his readers/listeners, and himself, into thought." Crépin does not suggest dates for the composition of T&C or either of the versions of CA, but his argument requires acceptance of a chronology very different from that which is ordinarily assumed. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 13.1]

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

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