Gower Bibliography

The Man of Law vs. Chaucer: A Case in Poetics

David, Alfred. "The Man of Law vs. Chaucer: A Case in Poetics." PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 82.2 (1967), pp. 217-225.


David suggests that throughout the CT Chaucer "is dramatizing the difficulties of a poet who writes for a small and opinionated audience" (219). In the Man of Law's fragment (Part 2 of CT), Chaucer responds to the sentiment that some of the early tales have too much of "solaas," and not enough of "sentence." The Man of Law embodies these kinds of critics, who are "well-meaning, but misinformed, pedantic, and dogmatic" (219). More precisely, the Man of Law "speaks for Gower" (220), something that is evident from the resemblances between them, namely "the legal training, the sententious manner, and, most important, the didactic aesthetic" (220). Of course, the Man of Law ceases to speak for Gower when he mentions the stories about incest in the CA, but here the joke is on the Man of Law, "who only makes himself seem ridiculously prudish in professing to be more moral than the moral Gower" (220). David further suggests that while the Man of Law makes his tale as dignified and moral as possible, he is generally a man of appearances only, who ultimately prefers respectability over morality. It is this attitude that exposes his essential shallowness and highlights the true nature of his poetics. [CvD]

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

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