Gower Bibliography

Vernacular Accessus: Text and Gloss in Gower's 'Confessio Amantis' and Christine de Pisan's 'Épître Othéa'

Ma, Ruen-chuan. "Vernacular Accessus: Text and Gloss in Gower's 'Confessio Amantis' and Christine de Pisan's 'Épître Othéa'." ES: Revista de Filología Inglesa 33.1 (2012), pp. 17-28. ISSN 0210-9689


Ma examines the different ways in which Gower and Pisan appropriate the authority of Latin in their respective vernacular works. In the passage on "Letters and Language" (as Macaulay termed it) in Genius' discourse on virtuous labor in CA 4.2633-74, Ma suggests that Gower holds up Latin writing as an exemplum to be imitated by writers in English. "Both Amans and Gower's vernacular readers stand to benefit from acquiring specific skills that Gower emphasizes in his representation of Latin's authority, and both need to transfer the benefits of studying Latin to their respective conditions, which are perceived as having inherent shortcomings that need to be 'confessed' in order to be redressed" (21). Gower adopts this process in his own writing, as he invokes the aid of Carmente (cited as the inventor of "the ferste letters of Latin" in IV.2637) in the Latin epigram that stands at the head of his Prologue. "Carmente symbolizes the transfer of learning from Latin into English, which Gower sees his Confessio as facilitating" (22). But while Gower theorizes the relation between Latinity and the vernacular, Christine enacts it palpably in the construction of her "Épître Othéa," with its fictional goddess figure and the divisions among texte, glose, and allégorie, as she "directly demonstrates the Latinate practices that further the literary capacities of the vernacular" (26). [Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 32.1]

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This special issue of ES is also titled "Gower in Context(s): Scribal, Linguistic, Literary and Socio-historical Readings," edited by Laura Filardo-Llamas, Brian Gastle, Marta Gutiérrez Rodríguez, and Ana Saez-Hidalgo.
Subjects:Language and Word Studies
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis

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