Gower Bibliography

Readings in Gower

Easton, Morton W. "Readings in Gower." Boston: Ginn, 1895


Easton's monograph, in the series Philology, Literature and Archaeology, published by the University of Pennsylvania, consists of two parts: a list of suggested emendations (13-50) to the Reinhold Pauli edition of the CA (1857); and an introduction (1-11) explaining both the rationale behind these variant readings as well as the need for a new edition of the CA. As Easton reveals in the introduction, the manuscripts he has consulted are those available in the British Museum, and he gives a description of each from the Museum catalogue. Whereas Pauli confined himself primarily to B (Harl. 7184), Easton focuses on A and C (Harl. 3490 and Harl. 3869 respectively). Of particular interest to Easton are erroneous spellings and the writing of silent –e. Easton further proposes that the study of Gower's language should be carried out without reference to the works of Chaucer, particularly given the possibility of dialectal differences. Easton then asks whether there were "several recensions of the poem" (5), and whether the version dedicated to Henry IV should be followed as "the last word of the poet" (5). Easton refuses to accept a single answer, but does propose a more fluid notion of Gower's text. Given the frequent revisions in various manuscripts, "the poet wrote not merely two, but many copies of the book, or of parts of the book" (6). As a result, the editor should consider all the manuscripts as a kind of single recension from which he might draw the best readings. Easton's own readings (13-50) aim to correct the sense of Gower's diction (in relation to Pauli), and to fix grammatical problems, harsh constructions, odd stresses, and so forth. Easton ends his introduction with a brief explanation why he has not used the 1889 edition by Henry Morley (he critiques its expurgation of some narratives, and its uncritical correction of Pauli's text), as well as with a short comparison of Gower and Chaucer. While Gower "had nothing of the dramatic instinct of Chaucer" (11), his charm lies in the fact that, like a "gentleman" (11) he cannot hide himself behind his narrative, but always reveals his own thoughts openly and honestly. [CvD]

Item Type:Book
Subjects:Language and Word Studies
Confessio Amantis
Manuscripts and Textual Studies

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