Gower Bibliography

Reassessing Gower's Dream-Visions

Galloway, Andrew. "Reassessing Gower's Dream-Visions." In John Gower, Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition. Ed. Dutton, Elisabeth, and Hines, John, and Yeager, R.F. Cambridge: Brewer, 2010, pp. 288-303.


Galloway finds a "devastatingly sceptical scrutiny" of earlier literary dream-visions in what is likely the first instance of a dream in Gower's writing, the portrait of Somnolence in MO 5180-96. "If a dream vision is supposed to be a disturbing revelation, here it is a comforting fraud. If it is traditionally brought on by a dreamer falling asleep in the lap of nature's bounty, here it is the result of a willed desire to remain in bed. . . ." (294). The same themes – the tension between transcendent authority and self-serving purpose and between rationality and mere appetite – Galloway also finds in the major dream episodes in both VC and CA. In VC 1, which is ostensibly about the rebels' surrender of reason to sensual desire, the poet's overt and conscious shaping of the dream, including a displacement of Nature from her central roles, creates "an unsettling analogy between the rebels' deforming appetite and the writer's literary manipulation" (196). Gower characterizes his vision as a "waking sleep," which "epitomizes his difficult balance between a writer's own desires and those of the disruptive social world that he is analyzing, and between a self-conscious emphasis on control and a claim to transcendent inspiration" (298). In CA 4, Amans' wish not to awaken from his gratifying fantasy of being with his beloved placed appetite securely over visionary authority and ominously anticipates Ceix and Alceone's own responsibility for "the horrible outcome of their story" (302). Gower's shifts of emphasis amount to a major reassessment of the dream-vision form, one that, by undermining its own claims, contributed to its demise, but echoes of Gower's explorations of "intellection driven by appetite" (302) can be found, Galloway concludes, in later English literature outside the dream-vision tradition. [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Vox Clamantis
Confessio Amantis
Mirour de l’Omme (Speculum Meditantis)

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