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By Diane Watt

"Moral Gower" he used to be known as by means of good friend and someday rival Geoffrey Chaucer, and his Confessio Amantis has been considered as an easy research of the universe, combining erotic narratives with moral tips and political remark. Diane Watt bargains the 1st sustained analyzing of John Gower's Confessio to argue that this early vernacular textual content deals no genuine suggestions to the moral difficulties it raises-and in reality actively encourages "perverse" readings. Drawing on a mixture of queer and feminist idea, moral feedback, and psychoanalytic, historicist, and textual feedback, Watt specializes in the language, intercourse, and politics in Gower's writing. How, she asks, is Gower's Confessio relating to modern controversies over vernacular translation and debates approximately language politics? How is Gower's therapy of rhetoric and language gendered and sexualized, and what bearing does this have at the moral and political constitution of the textual content? what's the dating among the erotic, moral, and political sections of Confessio Amantis? Watt demonstrates that Gower engaged within the type of serious pondering almost always linked to Chaucer and William Langland whilst that she contributes to trendy debates concerning the ethics of feedback. Diane Watt is senior lecturer in English on the college of Wales, Aberystwyth.

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Jeremy Griffiths shares Burrow’s opinion that Gower was not responsible for the confessor miniature, on the grounds that “to decide to illus- Introduction Figure 1. Amans and Genius. London British Library MS Add. Harley 3869, fol. 18r (detail). Reprinted by permission of the British Library, London. 93 The first represents Nebuchadnezzar in bed, alongside a depiction of the statue, the subject of his dream. ”94 This form of miniature also often appears as a frontispiece to the poem as a whole.

It is exactly this sort of creative yet crude and disruptive “misreading” that will be the focus of my analysis in the next section of this chapter, in which I examine some examples of the troubled sexual politics of grammatical gender in Gower’s English, Anglo-Norman, and Latin writings. Then, in the third and longest section, I locate this analysis within the broader context of the politics of language and style in late-fourteenthand early-fifteenth-century England. ”13 Likewise within Gower’s entire corpus there exists a polyglossia, a dialectic relationship between prestige and vernacular language, between “high styles” (sermon, advice to princes, estates literature, penitential literature, romance) and “low” (elements of farce, fable, and satire).

Medieval authors like Dante (and, as we will see, Gower), seem to have been particularly anxious about the possibility of being tainted by the sins of their metaphorical fathers. The anecdote concerning Latini in Commedia reveals Dante’s concerns about poetic inheritance, and also the link that exists in his imagination between literary pride, narcissism, and sodomy. It also suggests that the pursuit of writing, which can gain a man renown and honor, can at the 41 42 Writing Like a Man same time render him vulnerable to corruption.

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