Gower Bibliography

Chaucer, Gower, Hoccleve and the Commercial Practices of Late Fourteenth-Century London

Bertolet, Craig E. "Chaucer, Gower, Hoccleve and the Commercial Practices of Late Fourteenth-Century London." Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2013 ISBN 9781409448426

Review

Bertolet describes a London fully embracing a newly mercantile present, which brings with it "all the temptations a rich market can provide." Drawing upon passages from the MO principally, the CA secondarily, and the VC occasionally, he demonstrates that for Gower as for Chaucer and Hoccleve, "the principal tensions in London focused on commerce--how it worked, who controlled it, how it was organized, and who was excluded from it" (both quotes from the foreword). Although the book is relatively short--150 pages, excluding bibliography and index--Bertolet covers a surprising amount of ground. Despite the relative narrowness of his title, his subject is in reality the sweep of London life, for in the city as portrayed here all were engaged in buying and selling, from the nobility to the street beggars to the rituals and practices of the church. To supplement his close reading of textual passages Bertolet produces copious evidence from cases entered into the London Letter-Books and the Plea and Memoranda Rolls. The reality of these vignettes helps shore up his larger, rather ambitious theoretical framework for which he relies primarily on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Michel de Certeau and the recent economic studies of Christopher Dyer, Martha C. Howell and Lianna Farber. Ultimately this is a book less about literature qua literature than it is an excursion into psycho-social theory by way of poetic texts and economic archaeology. As such, it is hardly surprising to find Bertolet invoking Fernand Braudel or John Maynard Keynes--though altogether refreshing in these jargon-ridden days to discover Max Weber and Thorstein Veblen judiciously and thoughtfully employed alongside. The value of Bertolet's work for Gower studies lies in the particularity of his angle; it is likely to be a book much mined by others. [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society JGN 32.2]

Item Type:Book
Subjects:Backgrounds and General Studies
Confessio Amantis
Mirour de l’Omme (Speculum Meditantis)
Vox Clamantis

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata