Gower Bibliography

'A Bok for King Richardes Sake': Royal Patronage, the Confessio, and the Legend of Good Women

Coleman, Joyce. "'A Bok for King Richardes Sake': Royal Patronage, the Confessio, and the Legend of Good Women." In On John Gower: Essays at the Millenium. Ed. Yeager, R.F. Studies in Medieval Culture (46). Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, 2007, pp. 104-21.


Argues for restoring pre-eminence to the first recension of CA, as opposed to the "third recension" version that Macaulay chose as representing Gower's "final judgment," and also for restoring to Richard II major credit for the poem's inception. There is no reason for Gower to have invented the famous story of its commissioning, she points out. Citing the similarities in the depiction of the deities of love, with their allusions to Richard II and Queen Anne, and the references to the rivalry between the Flower and the Leaf in CA, the Legend of Good Women, and Clanvowe's Book of Cupid, she suggests that all three poets "may have been commissioned, or encouraged, to produce a complimentary poem incorporating these motifs (though, as with Chaucer and Gower, the critiques of Love's willful rule may have been more the poet's idea)" (112). She attributes the resistance to the acceptance of Richard's active role to a privileging of the later Lancastrian version of his text, to a "fascination with Gower's role as a Lancastrian ally" (105), and to a preference for the passages in the poem that offer "an attack on the king's excesses" (115) rather than for those that pay homage to him. But Gower's use of the cult of the Flower and the Leaf in order to "suggest the immaturity of life at Richard's court" suggests that "allegorizing the royals does not necessarily turn them into spun-sugar valentines" (116) and that the poets' acceptance of their commission need not be held against them. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 27.1]

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

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