Gower Bibliography

Genius and Sensual Reading in the Vox Clamantis

Irvin, Matthew. "Genius and Sensual Reading in the Vox Clamantis." In John Gower, Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition. Ed. Dutton, Elisabeth, and Hines, John, and Yeager, R.F. Cambridge: Brewer, 2010, pp. 196-205.


Although the figure of Genius in the Confessio Amantis is far better known, Gower gave him a cameo in the earlier Vox Clamantis IV, 13-14. Irvin reads the former to illuminate the latter, and vice-versa. Noting that "while the ecclesiastical nature of his role in the Confessio is contestable, in the Vox [Genius] clearly functions as not only a confessor but also a bishop and a scholar of theology," and thereby stands in for the Church proper—"the real target for [Gower's] critique." In both poems, Gower uses Genius to "show how the sensual (feminine) pleasures of reading can subvert the supposedly prudential forms of masculine, institutional interpretation" (196) "Reading Genius's persona in the Confessio with his brief appearance in the Vox," Irvin argues, "can begin to illustrate Gower's larger poetic and political goals. Both texts encourage not the exclusion of love and sex, but the inclusion of them within a larger political and institutional discourse, and the necessity for a "prudens" to experience their possibilities in order to properly act morally and politically" (205). [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Vox Clamantis
Confessio Amantis

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