Gower Bibliography

On the English Translation (by E. W. Stockton) of 'Vox Clamantis'

Ito, Masayoshi. "On the English Translation (by E. W. Stockton) of 'Vox Clamantis'." Bulletin of College of General Education, Tohoku University 18 (1973), pp. 1-17. ISSN 0287-8844


In Japanese. Written primarily as a review of E. W. Stockton's English translation of Gower's Latin works, this article also contains a detailed analysis of Gower's Latin style. While acknowledging the invaluable service that Stockton has done to Gower studies by making the VC accessible to a wide audience, Ito argues that Stockton's prose rendering of the VC is not always sufficiently attentive to its stylistic features. There are even passages, according to Ito, where mistranslation results from Stockton's failure to fully appreciate Gower's craftsmanship in his use of various rhetorical devices. The rhetorical techniques that Ito focuses on in this article include irony, paradox, metaphor, and wordplay, but what receives particular attention is Gower's use of antithesis. Line 1760 of Book 1 ("Quo cecidit fragili sub pede forte caput"), for example, involves the juxtaposition of "fragili pede" (weak foot) and "forte caput" (strong head), but this parallel structure is obscured in Stockton's translation as he mistakes "forte" for an adverb meaning "by chance." Similarly, in VC 6.1327-1328 ("Solo contenta moritur nunc fida Medea, / Fictaque Crisaida gaudet amare duos"), Stockton overlooks the opposition between "solo contenta" (satisfied with only one man) and "amare duos" (loving two men), incorrectly translating the former phrase as "laid out in the earth." Stockton's translation of VC 3.153-154 ("I wish to be just, but I am being transformed into anger, and this ensuing anger is destroying my good principles") is also inaccurate because he fails to see that the original lines ("Vti iusticia volo, set conuertor in iram, / Principiumque bonum destruit ira sequens") are built around two pairs of contrasted ideas, "iusticia"/"ira" (justice/anger) and "principium"/"sequens" (beginning/ensuing). Ito makes these and other observations to suggest ways to improve Stockton's translation, but they also demonstrate how frequent recourse to antithesis in the VC serves to hammer home one of the central themes of this Latin poem—the contrast between the degraded society of the present and the noble ideals that existed in a remote past. [Yoshiko Kobayashi]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Style, Rhetoric, and Versification
Vox Clamantis

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