The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Economou, George. "The Character Genius in Alan de Lille, Jean de Meun, and John Gower." 4 (1970): 203-10.
To appreciate fully the Genius character in medieval literature, readers must understand the tradition behind it. In the work of Alanus de Insulis, Genius serves Nature, excommunicating those who have disobeyed her laws. Nature says that Genius is a mirror image of herself, but the only common features are those relating to Nature's role as procreatrix. Thus when Genius condemns, he functions as part of Nature. Jean de Meun makes Genius a confessor in addition to his role as priest and spokesman. In Jean, the Christian view of love is assigned to Raison instead of Genius and Nature who represent the generative instinct without regard for the convention of marriage. Jean thus separates rationality and sexuality, causing Nature to battle Death at a more organic level. In Roman de la Rose, Venus and her son stand for lust, and thus they oppose Nature and Genius. Gower casts the relationship betwen Nature and Venus in the same way as de Lille did. So, in Confessio amantis, Gower introduces Genius as Venus's clerk, not as Nature's because that is the way Jean treated them.
Kinneavy, Gerald. "Gower's Confessio Amantis and the Penitentials." 19 (1984): 144-61.
The Confessio amantis contains a significant amount of material drawn from confession handbooks, those both for the laity and for the priesthood, as comparison with Robert of Brunne's Handlyng Synne and John Myrc's Instructions for Parish Priests shows. Amans makes a heartfelt confession to Genius in secret, and Genius responds with the mild manner counseled for confessors. Both Amans, the penitent, and Genius, the confessor, manifest an awareness of the necessity for the penitent to reveal everything about his sin in order for the confessor to respond properly. The instructions for the laity also inform the Confessio amantis. The penitent seeks to be shriven while alive and takes care to show the sincerity of his confession. In the end, reason reasserts control over courtly love.
Pelen, Marc M. "Murder and Immortality in Fragment VI (C) of the Canterbury Tales: Chaucer's Transformation of Theme and Image from the Roman de la Rose." 29 (1994): 1-25.
The Pardoner's Tale and the Physician's Tale oppose each other, but together they present "refraction of a more urgent poetic truth" (4). Ultimately the argument of both tales is the grace of God that is beyond the circumscription of words. In both tales, Chaucer responds to earlier legends, discussing murder and immorality. Such considerations derive from Chaucer's veneration of themes and images in the Roman de la Rose. The Physician's Tale also reacts to portions of the Roman de la Rose, and borrows a number of images from it. In the Roman de la Rose, readers recognize the contrasting voices of Genius, Reason, and Nature, just as they identify the opposing voices of the Physician and the Pardoner. In both works the full meaning of the poetry is outside of the dialogue between characters and beyond that between the writer and his audience.