Gower Bibliography

Stasis and Change: Gower's Gloss on Ovid's Lycaon.

Newlin, Robert. "Stasis and Change: Gower's Gloss on Ovid's Lycaon." Journal of English Language and Literature 60 (2014), pp. 613-32.


Gower's version of the tale of Lichaon (CA VII.3353-69) is short, only seventeen lines, and it omits most of the most vivid and significant details from the source in the "Metamorphoses." Newlin examines Ovid's version and the medieval commentaries on it, particularly the multiple transformations--in Lichaon's character, in Jupiter (in his disguise), in the hostage whom Lichaon serves to his guest, and finally in Lichaon himself, as he is changed into a wolf. Gower's version represents the English author's transformation of Ovid, first into English and then back in to the Latin of the gloss. "For Gower, I would propose, the articulation is the chief metamorphosis, the chief phenomenon (miraculous or not), and the chief display of power--whether divine or authorial. Here, wolfishness is scarcely a corporeal state for creatures, but rather a language. Put another way, the means take privilege over the event, the narration over the narrative . . . . Such a prioritization leads to a curious balance between stasis and movement. The most traditionally dynamic element--plot or action--is suppressed and flattened; the very language that does that suppression, however, is particularly metamorphic and mobile" (625). "Gower's encounter with his primary source is highly articulated, critically astute, and self-aware--what some critical discourses would call transtextual--and expansive (although within a focused, narrow range) rather than incidental . . . . What results is a narrative both successful as a story, as a commentary upon Ovid, and as a meditation upon the art of poetry, whether of Augustan, Lancastrian or perhaps of any place or age" (614). [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 34.2.]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis

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