Gower Bibliography

Translating Women, Translating Texts: Gower's 'Tale of Tereus' and the Castilian and Portuguese Translations of the 'Confessio Amantis'

Bullón-Fernández, María. "Translating Women, Translating Texts: Gower's 'Tale of Tereus' and the Castilian and Portuguese Translations of the 'Confessio Amantis'." In John Gower: Manuscripts, Readers, Contexts. Ed. Urban, Malte. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2009, pp. 109-32.


Noting that no "attempts have been made to analyse the three versions [of the Confessio], the two translations, and Gower's text, simultaneously" (111), Bullón-Fernández selects the "Tale of Tereus" as locus for comparison. The tale, with its focus on arranged marriages and foreign-born queens, is especially apt, since the Iberian translations were probably commissioned by Philippa, Queen of Portugal, and Catherine, Queen of Castile, both daughters of John of Gaunt who arranged their marriages as part of his price for abandoning his claims to the Castilian crown. "Tereus" Gower found in Ovid, but his own version is much altered. "While Ovid raises questions about the exchange of women between men and about the father-daughter bond, Gower is interested in the daughter's identification not only with her father, but more generally with her birth family. More so than Ovid, Gower develops the bond between the sisters, Philomena and Progne, and examines the latter's pull between her husband and her birth family. This reinterpretation of Ovid's story . . . is taken even further by the two Iberian translators (more so by Juan de Cuenca), both of whom comment on the practice of arranged foreign marriages and the question of the wife's identification with her birth family to a greater degree than does Gower, raising questions about the extent to which a daughter changes loyalty when she marries" (112). She concludes "with an analysis of the relation between these translations and the translations of Philippa and Catherine to Portugal and Castile. Reading these three versions of the ‘Tale of Tereus' side by side allows us to illuminate the fears and anxieties associated with the ‘translation' of actual royal and aristocratic women through marriage to foreign royal and aristocratic men and to raise complex and significant questions about this other process of ‘translation'" (112).] [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Facsimiles, Editions, and Translations
Confessio Amantis

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