Gower Bibliography

Gower’s Use of Aurora in Vox Clamantis

Beichner, Paul E. "Gower’s Use of Aurora in Vox Clamantis." Speculum 30.4 (1955), pp. 582-595.

Review

Beichner quotes Macaulay's opinion that Gower's practice of writing "cento" in the VC amounts to "schoolboy plagiarism" (quoted on 582). Beichner proposes to analyze the borrowings from one of the texts that Gower employs, the Aurora or Biblia versificata of Peter Riga, and he interprets them from a more positive perspective than Macaulay. According to Beichner, Gower must have used a manuscript of the first or unexpanded edition of the Aurora, because later additions to Riga's text do not figure at all in the VC. In terms of the content of his borrowings, Gower does not seem to have been particularly interested in the narrative sections of Riga's verse Bible, although he does borrow one such passage (VC 6.12), an excerpt of 28 lines that describes Balaam's plan for the defeat of the Israelites. Gower is mostly interested in Riga's moralizing passages, and Gower's originality lies in the new context that his own work provides. In fact, when one considers the VC as a whole then "one is overwhelmed by Gower's industry" (592). Gower carefully memorized passages as models of elegant writing from a variety of classical and medieval authors, of whom Riga is only one example. Beichner thus counters the accusation of plagiarism with the following conclusion: "I believe that he [Gower] felt he was honestly presenting his views on his own day even though he often expressed himself in words and criticisms borrowed from his predecessors" (593). An appendix to Beichner's essay provides a detailed catalogue of Gower's borrowings. [CvD]

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

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