Gower Bibliography

The Fifteen Stars, Stones and Herbs: Book VII of the Confessio Amantis and its Afterlife

O'Callaghan, Tamara F. "The Fifteen Stars, Stones and Herbs: Book VII of the Confessio Amantis and its Afterlife." In Gower, Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition. Ed. Dutton, Elisabeth, and Hines, John, and Yeager, R.F. Cambridge: Brewer, 2010, pp. 139-56.


O'Callaghan surveys the sources for, and the larger tradition that lies behind, the passage on the 15 stars and their corresponding stones and herbs in CA 7.1281-1438. The entire discussion functions with reference to the larger theme of lovers' misuse of magic and sorcery, introduced under the heading of Gluttony in Book 6. Even more broadly, she suggests, the passage is one of several betraying Gower's deep interest in science. In assessing how this portion of the poem was received, she gives particular attention to the illustrations in Pierpont Morgan MS M.126, which not only devotes a miniature to each of the 15 stars but also shows stars in the illustrations to several other key passages in the poem, in each case providing a reminder "that the heavens rule the actions of those on earth" (155). "The patron who commissioned this manuscript viewed the Confessio Amantis as a book of wisdom and magical lore rather than a poem on love and vice" (155), and for Gower too, O'Callaghan suggests, Book 7 was more central to CA than has been supposed by those who read the poem as a "love-vision" (156). [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis
Manuscripts and Textual Studies

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