Gower Bibliography

Gower's Confessio Amantis: A ‘New' Manuscript

Griffiths, Jane. "Gower's Confessio Amantis: A ‘New' Manuscript." Medium Aevum 82 (2013), pp. 244-59. ISSN 0025-8385

Review

Griffiths presents a detailed description of a previously unknown manuscript of selections from CA, for which she is not able to provide the present location because the owner wishes to remain anonymous. (Shall it therefore be known as the "Griffiths MS"?) It consists of 17 folios in double columns of 34 lines. Griffiths describes the hand as "an early form of Bastard Secretary with anglicana influence" (245). She dates it to the first quarter of the fifteenth century (244) and localizes it in the area "around London, Kent, and Sussex" (246). Textually it is most like Royal MS 18.C.xxii (Macaulay's R), a manuscript of Macaulay's first recension, group c. It is unique among manuscripts of extracts from the poem in presenting only a single tale, that of Codrus, on the final folio, and of eliminating all references to the dialogue between Genius and Amans except an occasional reference to "mi sone." It consists entirely of edited passages of moral instruction in both Latin and English, chosen from the Prologue and each book but the last. The compiler's choices suggest both a very personal response to CA and an engagement with the entire poem, and the framing of the collection with a passage from the Prologue on the decline of the world at the beginning and a "discussion of the nature of good kingship" (250) at the end suggests a deliberate intention to create "regiminal work . . . pertaining to ethical government" rather than offering merely "personal improvement" (250). Griffiths provides six pages of excerpts. There is one small slip. In discussing the relation of this MS to other copies, she notes that it includes 1.579-84, "hitherto known only from the Fairfax manuscript" (247). The passage in question appears in all copies that contain that portion of the poem; it is Prol.579-84 that occurs only in Fairfax and its successors. Based on Griffiths account, it appears that this manuscript contains none of the passages that appear in "recension 3" MSS alone. [PN. Copyright. JGN 33.1].

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Manuscripts and Textual Studies
Confessio Amantis

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