Gower Bibliography

Shakespeare as Medievalist: What it Means for Performing 'Pericles'.

Yeager, R.F. "Shakespeare as Medievalist: What it Means for Performing '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. 215-31.


As the reception history of Gower and his CA clearly shows, Jacobean England knew both the poet and his poem as representing values which were seen as those of an earlier age and quite distinctive from those of Protestant England. Whether through "Greenes Vision," Berthelette's black-letter edition of the CA, Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde," or Gower's tomb at St. Saviour's (Southwark's "theatrical parish"), Shakespeare's encounters with Gower were with the poet representing the moral authority of pre-Reformation, medieval England. Shakespeare's "Pericles," a re-conception of Gower's tale of Apollonius, foregrounds its source's medieval origins. In addition to the dumb show (a form "Shakespeare clearly connected . . . with the past"), Shakespeare highlights Gower's antiquity by embedding Latin within his English lines, clothing the poet in recognizably medieval garb, and placing the poet in the role of a presenter (a role associated with old-fashioned mystery and morality plays) who speaks in an antique register. These purposeful medievalisms provide a moral seriousness essential to understanding the play. And yet, it is these medieval elements that are quickly excised when "Pericles" has been staged in the past 150 years. Without them, however, the play loses its moral cohesion, giving us "sufficient reason to insist on the medieval presence when performing 'Pericles'." [CB. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 28.2]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Confessio Amantis
Influence and Later Allusion

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