Gower Bibliography

Bodily and Spiritual Healing through Conversation and Storytelling: Genius as Physician and Confessor in the 'Confessio Amantis'

Palmer, James M. "Bodily and Spiritual Healing through Conversation and Storytelling: Genius as Physician and Confessor in the 'Confessio Amantis'." In Approaches to Teaching the Poetry of John Gower. Ed. Yeager, R. F., and Gastle, Brian W. NewYork: Modern Language Association of America, 2011, pp. 53-58. ISBN 9781603290999

Review

This essay describes Gower's exploration of the links between practices of medicine and confession, especially in the like roles played by the physician and priestly confessor and the linkage of cures through storytelling. The connection between physical and spiritual healing is not new with Gower. As early as the beginning of the eleventh century, an influential book by Burchard of Worms introduced questions confessors might ask penitents; the book was entitled "Corrector, or Physician." The parallel in question-asking is suggestive of Venus's telling Amans she can apply no medicine if he does not describe his love "maladie," his "Sor," specifically in a conventionally confessional framework, to her priest. Palmer describes the connection at length, and where the relationship might be particularly suggestive in the classroom is in the stories of the CA: "Genius's [spiritual and physical] healing has taken place through storytelling" (58), Palmer argues, and it would be helpful to understand, perhaps through a single, well-chosen example, how this might have worked. Palmer takes his epigraph from John Arderne's fourteenth-century medical treatise, "It behooves a physician to know how to tell delightful and instructive tales that make patients laugh" (33) holds special promise; if Genius's, unlike Arderne's, are not for the most part designed to "make patients laugh," however, in what sense might they produce a genuinely curative effect? [Kurt Olsson. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 31.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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