Gower Bibliography

John Gower and the Book of Daniel

Peck, Russell A.. "John Gower and the Book of Daniel." In John Gower: Recent Readings. Papers Presented at the Meetings of the John Gower Society at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, 1983-88. Ed. Yeager, R.F.. Studies in Medieval Culture (26). Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University, 1989, pp. 159-87.


Discerns two views of history in Gower's writing: the apocalyptic -- emphasizing decline and punishment -- and the redemptive and penitential -- emphasizing the individual's ability to correct and improve himself. Gower found the models for both these views in the two dreams of Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel. Peck surveys other borrowings from Daniel in medieval literature to demonstrate that Gower's use of this source was exceptional, at least for secular writers. He then discusses how Gower used his model in VC and CA. VC is the more apocalyptic work: Gower draws on a number of eschatological sources in his Prologue, in preparation for Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the composite statue, representing the degeneration of mankind, in Book 7. In CA, Gower's two different views of history are juxtaposed. Even the dream of the statue in the Prologue is surrounded by imagery that is more penitential in nature and by repeated references to mankind's responsibility, and the Prologue ends with expressed hope for a new Arion (from the Book of Isaiah) who will bring about a new Golden Age. The penitential mode becomes dominant in Book I, in which Gower shifts from Nebuchadnezzar's first dream to his second, moving the apocalyptic rhetoric to the background and setting the tone for the remainder of CA. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 9.2]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Vox Clamantis
Confessio Amantis

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