Gower Bibliography

The Woman's Response in John Gower's Cinkante Balades

Barbaccia, Holly. "The Woman's Response in John Gower's Cinkante Balades." In John Gower, Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition. Ed. Dutton, Elisabeth, and Hines, John, and Yeager, R.F. Cambridge: Brewer, 2010, pp. 230-38.


Barbaccia closely analyses the five balades, 41-44 and 46, written in the voice of the lady. Toward these, she argues forcefully, "Gower encourages us to move . . . and linger over . . . as a key to the whole text" (231). In Barbaccia's view, "only in the light of her response can the male lover [there is only one, not two, in Barbaccia's reading] produce his moral insights about love and honour in Balades 48-50" (229)—balades she also examines thoroughly (237-38). Portraying the sequence as a true exchange, she characterizes the lady's literary effort as conscious both of her lover's work and of the major French poets', pointing her claim with a careful study of lines in the lady's work that resonate widely. This is hardly accidental: "By paraphrasing Machaut, Grandson, Froissart, Deschamps and the male speaker in practically the same breath, the woman speaker puts them on equal footing; she thus elevates her beloved's Balades and his poetic reputation" (236). The "Cristall dame"—an image from balade 45—is very much the center and force of the sequence for Barbaccia; she even takes the final poem addressed to the Virgin as "re-vok[ing] the woman speaker and her poems . . . . Like Petrarch's canzone 366, Gower's coda Balade apparently praising Mary functions as a palimpsest, revealing dame through dame" (238)." "Within the woman's series," she concludes, "the male speaker's best lyric efforts crystallize. So, it seems, do Gower's" (238)] [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Cinkante Balades

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