Gower Bibliography

Miniatures as Evidence of Reading in A Manuscript of the Confessio Amantis [Pierpont Morgan MS M.126]

Eberle, Patricia J.. "Miniatures as Evidence of Reading in A Manuscript of the Confessio Amantis [Pierpont Morgan MS M.126]." 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. 311-64.


After discussing the availability of models, the problems created by page layout, and the very circumstances of MS production, Eberle presents convincing evidence that the miniatures in the Morgan MS were devised as a coherent program and that they reveal an interest in specific features of Gower's poem. The MS originally contained 110 illustrations, 108 of which survive. The placement and size of the miniatures in Book 7 (about half of the total) reflect the designer's concern for the hierarchical division of the text that corresponds to Gower's own concern for ordinatio. The illustrations of the tales reveal the designer's eye for content. In cases where two miniatures are found on the same page, he has chosen images that are either parallel or contrastive in some way, reinforcing the effects of the juxtaposition of the tales; some evidence of the same concern for parallelism can be found among widely separated tales. And in her detailed examination of the background and setting in some selected miniatures, Eberle discovers "an impulse to add interpretive detail" (p. 339), and offers revealing comments on how the painter responded to the designer's instructions. In her notes she hints at other patterns in the choice of which episode to illustrate. The evidence she presents for "the existence of an intelligent reading" behind these illuminations (p. 342) is compelling, and makes us look forward to hearing more. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 9.2]

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

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