Gower Bibliography

The Character Genius in Alan de Lille, Jean de Meun, and John Gower

Economou, George D. "The Character Genius in Alan de Lille, Jean de Meun, and John Gower." Chaucer Review 4.3 (1970), pp. 203-210. ISSN 0009-2002


Economou elucidates the influences that shaped Gower's character Genius. Alan de Lille, in De Planctu Naturae, uses Genius as a kind of double to Natura. Genius is her representative on earth and is especially associated with procreation. Jean de Meun in turn expands the role of Genius by giving him the function of confessor in The Roman de la Rose. However, in the Roman, "the Christian cosmological and moral conception of sexual love as it is expressed in Alan is assigned to the character Raison rather than to Natura and Genius" (206). In addition, for Jean de Meun, Genius and Nature represent procreation without clear reference to marriage or Christian morality. Genius further enters the service of Venus, who is entirely associated with cupidity and "luxuria" in the Roman. It is Gower's intention, then, to restore Genius to Alan de Lille's initial conception, by making him subservient to a good Venus who is once more in touch with reason and nature. The resulting synthesis gives a greater understanding of the overall unity of the CA: "In this sense, his dual role as Christian priest and priest of Venus, as she is defined by Gower, does not create a problem, for Genius is the moral agent that bridges the worlds of true religion and the religion of love" (209). [CvD]

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

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