Gower Bibliography

Gower's French Audience: The Mirour de l'Omme

Yeager, R.F. "Gower's French Audience: The Mirour de l'Omme." Chaucer Review 41 (2006), pp. 111-37. ISSN 0009-2002


In an earlier essay, "Politics and the French Language in England during the Hundred Years' War" (see JGN 20, no 1 (March 2001): 23-26), Yeager focused on the origin of MO, arguing that its opening and its choice of language indicated that it was intended to be read by a chivalric audience, more specifically by King Edward III and his French-speaking inner circle. In the present essay, Yeager focuses on the completion of the poem, which he believes occurred many years later, when Gower had become installed at St. Mary Overes priory in Southwark. Both the penitential tone of the final section of the poem – so different from everything that precedes – and the appeal to the intercession of the Virgin can be explained, Yeager suggests, by a shift in Gower's intended audience to the Austin canons of the priory, and Gower's residence there also explains his access to the sources, which he is not known to have used otherwise, for this section. There is obviously much that is speculative about this argument, of course, but Yeager has anticipated virtually every objection, and in doing so, he has added to the discussion of the relative status of the three languages current in England at the time by pointing out that French would have been in common use by the priory's residents. Also along the way, he adds some new material on the origins of MO, suggesting Henry of Lancaster's "Livre de Seyntz Medicines" as one of Gower's models, both for the form of his poem and for the idea that a moral work of this sort would appeal to a royal and aristocratic audience. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 26.2]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Biography of Gower
Mirour de l’Omme (Speculum Meditantis)

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