Gower Bibliography

Gower's Mediterranean

Kruger, Stephen F. "Gower's Mediterranean." In On John Gower: Essays at the Millenium. Ed. Yeager, R.F. Studies in Medieval Culture (46). Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, 2007, pp. 3-19.


Kruger observes that the growth of the merchant class in the late Middle Ages offered challenges to traditional Christian conceptions both of Christianity itself and of the three estates, and that "the changes and anxieties associated with mercantilism are intimately, indeed indissolubly, connected to questions of religious identity and difference: can the Christian remain a Christian if he is a merchant?" (3). In the texts that he uses as examples, the Mediterranean provides the ideal site for acting out questions both of religious and of mercantile identity. Gower's Mediterranean is most often the pre-medieval and pre-Christian setting of the tales he borrowed from his classical sources, but he too uses the contemporary Mediterranean as a site to "think through" the relation between Christianity and mercantilism (8). Kruger's principal example from Gower's work is the tale of Constance, in which the Barbar merchants of the opening initiate a "spiritual exchange" and a series of conversions, and in which Constance herself, in her several voyages, "takes on and spiritually transforms the merchants' role" (14). Many of the exchanges that she is involved in, however, result in violence. The merchants in the tale "may . . . be part of an attempt to rethink and assert the value of the mercantile for Christian purposes, but the Mediterranean stage of their actions remains riven by religious difference, a scene of conflict and disruption as much as of Christian self-promulgation" (14). [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 27.1]

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

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