Gower Bibliography

The Tactful Genius: Abiding the End in the 'Confessio Amantis'

Beer, Lewis. "The Tactful Genius: Abiding the End in the 'Confessio Amantis'." Studies in Philology 115.2 (2015), pp. 234-64. ISSN 0039-3738


Beer argues that "John Gower's Confessio Amantis is a coherent poem, that its bleak conclusion is inevitable, and that the exemplary moral tales in the main body of the poem work to anticipate and prepare the ground for that conclusion." In support of this argument," he analyzes a sequence of tales from book V--the tales of Echo, Babio and Croceus, Adrian and Bardus, and Theseus and Ariadne--in order to show how they function on multiple levels. Ostensibly, they warn against sins of which the hapless Amans is not guilty (and which he accuses his lady of having committed herself); on a deeper level, and with the help of tactful hints from Genius, they warn Amans of the dangers to which his unrequited love may expose him, and of its inevitable end-point. In advancing these claims, Beer contests the views of scholars who have argued for the incoherence of CA, or for a more optimistic view of Genius's advice to Amans. He suggests "that coming to terms with the poem's coherence and bleakness enhances our appreciation of its subtlety and profundity." [LB/RFY. eJGN 34.1]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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