Gower Bibliography

Laughter in the Courts of Love: Comedy in Allegory, from Chaucer to Spenser

Leonard, Frances McNeely. "Laughter in the Courts of Love: Comedy in Allegory, from Chaucer to Spenser." Norman, OK: Pilgrim Books, 1981 ISBN 0937664545

Review

Leonard argues that the double vision of comedy (what is versus what should be) is compatible with the doubleness of allegory (literal and allegorical meanings), and explores how Chaucer and related poets (Gower, Dunbar, Douglas, Hawes, Skelton, Spenser, and others) capitalize upon the connection in courtly love poetry. According to Leonard, the comedy of Gower's CA lacks Chaucer's exuberance; both poets agree that the "path to wisdom is outside the Court of Love," but Gower's comedy is "low-keyed because of Gower's apparent mistrust of either ecstasy or depression." Leonard comments on similarities between CA and Dante's "Divine Comedy," on the encyclopedic nature of CA, its digressions, and its confessional mode. She explores the "figurative and literal presence of Christ in the poem," and locates its comedy in only three of the exemplary stories, in Amans's recognition of himself as an Old Man in Venus's mirror, and in Genius's transformation from "encyclopedia to wisdom." This change in Genius from "love-tutor" to "true priest" is what "provides the human comedy of the poem," while Venus's "rise, however temporarily, from the level of cupidity to charity," helps us to "laugh at sin and error" and "find comfort in virtue."

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

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata