Gower Bibliography

Beginnings Without End: The Prologue to John Gower's Confessio Amantis.

Gertz, SunHee Kim. "Beginnings Without End: The Prologue to John Gower's Confessio Amantis." In Life in Language: Studies in Honour of Wolfgang Kühlwein. Ed. Schuth, Andreas S. and Weber, Jean Jacques. Trier: WVT, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2005, pp. 329-52. ISBN 9783884767467

Review

Gertz examines the Prologue to the Confessio Amantis in order to demonstrate the ways Gower's entire poem reinvigorates allegorical modes of interpretation. Though clearly invoking this time-honored interpretive mode, the poem consistently resists standard, stultifying modes of allegorical interpretation. For example, readers are alerted to the fact that default modes of interpreting allegory are insufficient when Amans' identity as "John Gower" is not revealed until the end of the poem. Enigmas such as this encourage attentive readers to pause and puzzle, eventually prompting them "to return to the beginning, to see if [this] new knowledge changes the allegory in decisive ways" (335). This metaliterary concern with teaching readers to read at multiple levels, Gertz argues, revitalizes the process of reading and interpreting allegory. This technique is illustrated with close readings of the Nebuchadnezzar and Arion passages bracketing the Prologue's fifth section. Not only do these two passages illustrate two modes of reading and interpretation, but they rehearse the tensions between 'translation studii' and 'translatio imperii,' between diachronic and synchronic modes of interpretation, between unity and division. Cumulatively, these tensions allow Gower to create "living metaphors throughout his poem," and thereby to renew allegory (349). [CB. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 29.2]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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