Gower Bibliography

Languages of kingship in Ricardian Britain.

Williams, Jon Kenneth. "Languages of kingship in Ricardian Britain." PhD thesis, Columbia University, 2009.

Review

“In ‘Languages of Kingship in Ricardian Britain’ I examine representations of King Richard II, most notably known to literature as Shakespeare's doomed protagonist, a hubristic, puerile, and clearly unfit king who awaits his deserved overthrow. This portrayal, written and performed centuries after Richard's deposition and subsequent murder, springs from a mythology perpetuated by Richard's supplanter, Henry of Lancaster, and his adherents: that the Ricardian regime existed only as a prologue to its own eclipse. Texts that date from Richard's twenty-two-year reign (1377-1399), however, used many of the same descriptors and rhetorical strategies that the Lancastrians would adapt--but with very different ambitions and ends. . . . In my fourth chapter I read a series of texts that date to the final year of Richard's reign and to the first years of the Lancastrian dynasty. I trace a debate amongst several poems about the nature and efficacy of advisory literature as a genre once it was evident that earlier literature of advice had failed to alter Richard's behavior. I argue that the anonymous poem ‘Richard the Redeless’ attempts to avoid tribulations similar to those that bedeviled Richard's earlier reign by declaring that learned men have a civic responsibility to advise the king and that John Gower's poems ‘In Praise of Peace’ and ‘O Deus Immense’ propose that divine favor must be earned through good government and not considered an expected appurtenance of kingship. Finally, I propose that Gower introduces into his narrative of Richard's fall, the Tripartite Chronicle, a psychological motive for the king's failure to heed prior good counsel: a mysterious, interior 'dark suffering' that would reappear for centuries in historical and biographical accounts of the late king. Gower's efforts, reflect the pervasive recognition that political sovereignty is ultimately a literary construct.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:DAI-A 71/02 (August 2010)
Subjects:In Praise of Peace
Minor Latin Poetry
Cronica Tripertita
Influence and Later Allusion

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