Gower Bibliography

Gower's Mirour de l'Omme und Chaucer's Prolog.

Fluegel, Ewald. "Gower's Mirour de l'Omme und Chaucer's Prolog." Anglia 24 (1901), pp. 437-508.

Review

The epigraph to Fluegel’s article reads "Glosynge is a glorious thyng certeyn" (437), and Fluegel's critical method is to give extended glosses to various lines from the Prologue to Chaucer's CT. The primary purpose of these glosses is to provide analogues from quite a range of contemporary sources, Gower's MO and the VC being the foremost among them. Fluegel's discussion centers around a number of characters, namely the Knight (440-48), the Monk (448-60), the Friar (460-72), the Merchant (472-76), the Clerk (476-84), the Man of Law (484-96), the Physician (496-98), the Parson (498-503), the Plowman (503-04), the Summoner (505-07), and the Host (507-08). In general, Gower’s satire is sharper and less sympathetic. For instance, Fluegel suggests that the MO’s section on "chivalers," with its "scharfe kritik der gegenwärtigen zeit" (strong criticism of the present time) bears little resemblance to "dem freundlichen, lebensfrischen und sonnigen in Chaucer's prolog" (the pleasant, lively, and sunny [aspects] of Chaucer's Prologue; 440). Indeed, Fluegel generally describes the MO's style as similar to "die ölige, glatte monotonie der Confessio Amantis" (the slick and polished monotony of the CA; 427). The MO has a certain "farblosigkeit" (colourlessness; 437)and is characterized by a "melancholisch-pessimistischen tadelsfreude" (melancholy and pessimistic enjoyment of censure; 437). Simply put, Chaucer's Prologue is shorter, but its satire is better. Nevertheless, some of the descriptions of the estates are surprisingly similar in the MO and the CT. For instance, Augustine's comparison of clergy that dabble in secular matters to fish out of water is found both in Chaucer's description of the Monk and in Gower's discussion of "possessioners." In these sections, both authors also make reference to the Rule of St. Augustine (450). In places, Fluegel further notes the importance of the VC in relation to the CT. For instance, in the section on the Man of Law, Fluegel directs the reader to the first six chapters of book 6 of the VC (on the greed of judicial officials), which "womöglich den Mirrour noch an bitterkeit und zorn übertreffen" (possibly exceed the MO in bitterness and fury; 484). Yet it is still the MO that receives most attention, and Fluegel suggests that the MO's section on the law contains a new legal expression about "packing a jury"; the leader who corrupts the jury is called a "Tracier" (489). Fluegel provides little commentary on whether any direct lines of influence are discernable between Gower and Chaucer. In fact, at times he notes their stark difference. One of the last characters Fluegel discusses, the Plowman, presents a stark contrast to Gower's complaints about contemporary laborers, and shows much more similarity with the depiction of the Plowman in Wyclif and Langland (503-04). [CvD]

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

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