Gower Bibliography

'The Quick and the Dead': Performing the Poet Gower in Pericles

Jones, Kelly. "'The Quick and the Dead': Performing the Poet Gower in Pericles." In Shakespeare and the Middle Ages: Essays on the Performance and Adaptation of the Plays with Medieval Sources or Settings. Ed. Driver, Martha W., and Ray, Sid. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009, pp. 201-214.

Review

Although not concerned with Gower per se, Jones focuses squarely on medieval elements visible in "Pericles," whose plot was ultimately derived (whether wholly by Shakespeare or not) from Gower's "Apollonius of Tyre" in CA 8. Noting that for some in the Middle Ages (including the anonymous pamphleteer behind The Tretise of Miraclis Pleyinge, ca. 1380-1425, with whose opinions Jones opens) "dead books" offered an illiterate public little spiritual solace or counsel. Preferable were plays, essentially "quike bookis" that all could read through the actors' efforts. Jones argues that such a view of the theatre's exemplarity underlies the development of the chorus or Prologue character as a figure of authority in early modern drama, both for good (e.g., Mercy in "Mankind") or for ill (as in the case of the "subversive authority" of the Machiavel [204-05]). One such figure is "Gower" in "Pericles" but because "Gower is also a historical figure and subject to . . . visual iconicity" (206) his recognized status as a moral writer for Shakespeare's audience (still inhabiting a time when print culture was fluid, and "where perhaps the literary and performative modes of storytelling were not so entirely disparate entities" [207]) could be counted on to lend his words added authority in his role as Prologue. Thus, Jones argues, "Shakespeare's play projects Gower as a hybrid of archaic alterity and iconic familiarity" (209). [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 28.2]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Influence and Later Allusion

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