Gower Bibliography

The Illustrations in New College MS. 266 for Gower's Conversion Tales

Braeger, Peter C.. "The Illustrations in New College MS. 266 for Gower's Conversion Tales." 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.. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University, 1989, pp. 275-310.


Braeger estimates that in New College MS 266 there were originally at least 32 illuminations (13 of which have been lost). With some acknowledgment of the difficulties created by our lack of knowledge of the types of models that were available to the artist, Braeger claims that taken together, these illustrations guide the reader to a particular way of interpreting the poem. The emphasis, in the choice of which tales to illustrate, is on what he calls "conversion narratives," in which the protagonist is brought to self-discovery and from vice to virtue; within these tales, the event that is illustrated is typically the encounter or discovery that provides "the initial moment of the protagonist's moral insight, the beginning of conversion" (p. 280). The other illustrations also "often feature moments of self- examination and insight similar to those of the conversion narratives" (p. 290). This emphasis draws attention, of course, to the analogy of Amans' "conversion" as a result of his encounter with Genius, which is also illustrated in the MS. It also provides a model for the reader's encounter with the poem and the "conversion" from vice to virtue that it offers. [PN. Copyright The New Gower Society. JGN 9.2]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Confessio Amantis
Manuscripts and Textual Studies

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