Gower Bibliography

John Gower and his Works.

Anonymous,. "John Gower and his Works." The British Quarterly Review 27.53 (1858), pp. 3-36.


The anonymous author reviews Gower's works, life, and reputation, likely in response to the publication of Pauli's CA in 1857. After a description of Gower's tomb, the author suggests that Gower should be remembered mostly for his contribution to the rise of the English vernacular (4). A brief history of the decline of Gower's reputation follows, as well as a synopsis of Gower's life that borrows heavily from Sir Harris Nicolas. The author feels that Gower likely was not a lawyer, though he could have met Chaucer as a student at the Inner Temple. Gower was likely a "gay and courtly esquire" (6) in the reign of Edward III. Gower may also have seen the battlefield in France or at least jousted, given "the lofty views he entertained of the knightly character" (6). Gower's income from multiple manors gave him independent standing, although he was part of Richard II's court and likely took up service in the house of Henry of Lancaster. Gower’s supposed shift in allegiance from Richard to Henry can be explained quite simply: "the dedication [of the CA] proves that Gower offered his homage to Henry of Lancaster while he was only Earl of Derby, and when the chance of his becoming King was scarcely within the bounds of possibility" (9). If there was one thing that may have been distasteful to Richard, it was Gower's sharp criticisms of the Lollards, since many of Richard's nearest relations favoured Wyclif’s ideas (10). Chaucer may have been annoyed that Gower shared Lancastrian patronage, and perhaps this explains the rift in their friendship (11). After a brief discussion of Gower's will, the author gives summaries of Gower's major works. Lyrical works like the CB are preferred over the satire of the VC and once more the author notes Gower's contribution to the vernacular in the CA. Despite Gower's accomplishments, though, he is rated well below Chaucer and Langland (36). [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Biography of Gower
Confessio Amantis
Vox Clamantis
Cinkante Balades
Cronica Tripertita

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