Gower Bibliography

Rival Poets: Gower's Confessio and Chaucer's Legend of Good Women

Bowers, John. "Rival Poets: Gower's Confessio and Chaucer's Legend of Good Women." In John Gower, Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition. Ed. Dutton, Elisabeth, and Hines, John, and Yeager, R.F. Cambridge: Brewer, 2010, pp. 276-87.


Bowers re-examines the chronology and the historical setting of Gower's and Chaucer's major works, particularly Chaucer's LGW, in order to reassess their literary relationship and also to offer a rather novel view of their respective reputations at the end of the 1390's. Following Paul Strohm and Kathryn Lynch, he places the composition of the F Prologue of LGW after 1392. Coming that late, it reflects Chaucer's use both of the Prologue to CA and also of Clanvowe's Boke of Cupide. Chaucer's borrowing, Bowers suggests, is consistent with his rewriting of Gower's tales of Florent and Constance in WBT and MLT, and Bowers describes the portrayal of the Man of Law as a friendly caricature of Gower himself. His revision of the LGW Prologue, Bowers claims, "reflects Chaucer's insecurity at the court of an increasingly volatile monarch" (286), and he contrasts Chaucer's "retreat" (286) into a "'closet' project not meant for courtly readers" (282) with Gower's cultivation of the Lancastrians, by which he became "temporarily their most-favoured poet" (287). It was Gower's "preeminence as the London author of English, Latin and French poetry during the 1390s," Bowers concludes, that served "as impetus for Chaucer's competitive, creative responses in his Canterbury Tales but also in his Legend of Good Women" (287). [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

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

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