By Diane Watt
"Moral Gower" he was once 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 statement. Diane Watt deals the 1st sustained examining of John Gower's Confessio to argue that this early vernacular textual content bargains no actual suggestions to the moral difficulties it raises-and actually actively encourages "perverse" readings. Drawing on a mix of queer and feminist thought, 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 on the topic of 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 severe considering frequently linked to Chaucer and William Langland even as that she contributes to fashionable debates concerning the ethics of feedback. Diane Watt is senior lecturer in English on the college of Wales, Aberystwyth.
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Additional resources for Amoral Gower: Language, Sex, and Politics
Gower is concerned to communicate rather than to withhold learning, and his decision to write a major work in the vernacular is crucial to the fulfillment of that aim. At the same time, he would certainly have been sensitive to its political and ethical ramifications and to the risks he might be taking in the process. There is at the heart of Gower’s writing a contradiction that he does not and cannot resolve. 1 Gower’s writing raises questions about how the text should be read and by whom. 21 22 G o w e r’ s B a b e l T o w e r A Slip of the Tongue Gower begins Confessio Amantis, generally thought of as his “English” poem, with a Latin verse: Torpor, ebes sensus, scola parua labor minimusque Causant quo minimus ipse minora canam: Qua tamen Engisti lingua canit Insula Bruti Anglica Carmente metra iuuante loquar.
23 This generalization seems unlikely to be applicable to someone as educated as Gower, someone who was so closely acquainted with Alain de Lille’s De Planctu Naturae. 24 Gower adapts Alain de Lille’s ideas freely. In his Tale of Iphis and Ianthe, which appears in Book IV of Confessio Amantis (451–505), discussed in more detail in Chapter 3, Gower forges a link between grammatical and sexual or gender confusion and ethical complexities which may explain his inconsistent use of the third person pronouns.
13 My own discussion of the political dimensions of Book VII of Confessio occurs in Chapter 5, below. Here my focus is restricted to the discussion of language that is embedded within Book VII. ”14 Genius then follows the Aristotelian scheme articulated in Latini’s Trésor in dividing knowledge into three categories, with the theoretical as the first, and the practical as the third. 16 In this chapter, my primary concern will be with the way in which Gower’s construction of rhetoric can be seen to be both gendered and sexualized, especially when read alongside other classical and medieval discussions of the subject.