The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Acker, Paul. "The Emergence of an Arithmetical Mentality in Middle English Literature." 28 (1994): 293-302.
Arithmetical methods passed from Pythagoras to Boethius, who passed these ideas on to Cassiodorus and Isidore. Bartholomaeus Anglicus picks up these ideas in De proprietatibus rerum, translated by Trevisa into Middle English. In the twelfth century, algorism began to replace arithmetic. Gower refers to this new arithmetic in the Confessio amantis in a stanza borrowed from Brunetto Latini. The Court of Sapience also reveals a shift in mathematical models. The Art of Nombryng and Mum and the Sothsegger give evidence that even those writers not concerned with mathematics were becoming aware of it.
Benson, C. David. "Incest and Moral Poetry in Gower's Confessio Amantis." 19 (1984): 100-09.
In the Confessio amantis Gower treats two incestuous stories, those of Canacee and Apollonius of Tyre. Gower creates a sense of necessity in both, suggesting that passionate love is so strong that it overwhelms reason and that these characters can therefore be exonerated to some extent. While demonstrating the sinfulness of such passion, however, Gower does not provide genuine penitential solutions for these sins.
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.
Hillman, Richard. "Gower's Lucrece: A New Old Source for The Rape of Lucrece." 24 (1990): 263-70.
That the rapist tells Lucrece stories about her husband while she entertains him in both Gower and Shakespeare suggests that Shakespeare probably read Gower's treatment of the story in Confessio amantis; several details found in both Confessio amantis and the Rape of Lucrece support a similar conclusion. Both writers also treat the tale similarly, especially developing balance between characters, character motivation, and Lucrece's response to being violated.
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.
Lee, Brian S. "The Position and Purpose of the Physician's Tale." 22 (1987): 141-60.
Chaucer alters his source material for the Physician's Tale so that what was a pagan tale becomes a Christian exemplum. Comparing the tale to Gower's Tale of Virginia and Chaucer's Legend of Lucrece shows that Gower's tale has a political agenda more than a moral one and that Chaucer has altered both the source materials so that Virginia is more active and points more toward Christian truth. Chaucer presents the Physician's Tale and the Pardoner's Tale as two contrasting exempla, one depicting good, the other evil. The Physician's Tale should be read immediately after the Franklin's Tale because the Physician's Tale presents one possible outcome of Aurelius's proposition to Dorigen. Chaucer constructs the Physician's Tale so that Virginia is passive, in part because she is so virtuous, compared to Alisoun in the Miller's Tale. In the tale Virginia is contrasted to Apius, who is presented as purely evil, but he envies Virginia's goodness. Love cures envy, and in the tale, Virginius represents that love.
Nicholson, Peter. "Gower's Revisions in the Confessio Amantis." 19 (1984): 123-43.
Painstaking examination of the extant manuscripts of Gower's Confessio amantis suggests that most likely he had no direct control over the scribes who copied his work and that scholars cannot state with certainty which manuscripts represents Gower's own revised version of his work.
Olsson, Kurt. "Love, Intimacy, and Gower." 30 (1995): 71-100.
In Gower's Confessio amantis readers see a search for the secret, intimate places of the self. Amans, the lover, searches for understanding of his inmost heart in the confessional. The priest seeks to know that heart, while Amans pursues intimacy with his beloved. Both searches, result in Amans's psychological health indicated by his return home. Amans's intense desires for intimacy with the beloved include the longing for stolen, secret sexual embrace. His dedication to the beloved authorizes this desire. He does, unfortunately, give his love monetary value. In doing so he bypasses the possibility for genuine intimacy. Penelope, Alcyone, Alceste, and Lucrece, who appear at the end of the dream in the Confessio amantis, raise questions about gender stereotypes, but are paradoxically defined by gender roles. Amans ends his search for himself at home, but the safety of home must not be taken for granted as the stories of the four women indicate. Gower presents marriage as a remedy to Amans's secret desire for intimacy. Gower also addresses marriage in the Mirour de l'Omme, but the conflicting portraits of Adultery and Matrimony suggest that marriage is usually loveless. Both marriage partners partake of the consequences of Eve's sin, but women are considered companions, not subordinates, in the marriage relationship.
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "Notes on Gower's Prosody." 28 (1994): 405-413.
Analysis of the Mirour de l'Omme and the Confessio amantis shows that Gower borrowed regular, octosyllabic standard meter and intricate rhyme patterns from French writers like Machaut. He also uses run-on lines. To create humor, Gower emphasizes his rhymes.
Scala, Elizabeth. "Canacee and the Chaucer Canon: Incest and Other Unnarratables." 30 (1995): 15-39.
The narrative strategy of the Canterbury Tales creates individualized pilgrims and makes readers conscious of Chaucer, the author constructing the narratives. The introduction to the Man of Law's Tale points toward the texts of other authors, such as Gower's Confessio amantis, and even indicates other texts written by Chaucer, the "Legend of Medea" for example. The double indications of the text force readers to remain conscious of the pilgrim and of Chaucer, both tellers of the same tale. The Man of Law's Tale, however, does exactly what he proclaimed it could not. Such denial only highlights the Man of Law's fears about the story he might tell. The reference in the Squire's Tale to Canacee reminds the audience of the incest motif that undergirds the Canterbury Tales. Both tales may be considered in terms of absence: the Man of Law's Tale presents a story it was not going to tell, and the Squire's Tale is not at all about its stated subject. That the Squire's Tale is unfinished merely underscores its subject--gaps and absences. The Squire's use of occupatio draws attention to the weaknesses of such a tradition. In the Squire's Tale, then, reader see the importance of the unnarrated material preceding and following the tale.
Stroud, T. A. "The Palinode, the Narrator, and Pandarus's Alleged Incest." 27 (1992): 16-30.
The Palinode at the end of Troilus and Criseyde has always puzzled critics. The narrator's depiction of Troilus's end draws attention to two possible ways of interpreting the plot, either as "pathetic romance" or as an allegorical "Boethian quest" (18). Identification of the repudiation of earthly love as a palinode allows critics to examine the charge that Pandarus committed incest. Though medieval writers treated unwedded sex as sin, Gower treats incest as a sin in Confessio amantis, neither Boccaccio, Dante, Ovid, nor any of the French fabliau treat incest. Though Pandarus does act as a go-between, he merely asks Criseyde to forgive him the next morning.
Tkacz, Catherine Brown. "Samson and Arcite in the Knight's Tale." 25 (1990): 127-37.
In the Knight's Tale Arcite promises Mars to cut his hair, and Arcite's vow recalls that of Samson. Chaucer borrows from that tradition and alters the material in the Teseida to create this parallel. Roman de la Rose, a homily in MS Harl.45, fol. 101b, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Kyng Alisaunder, the Fall of Princes, the Letter of Cupid, Valerius ad Ruffinum, Vox clamantis, Confessio amantis, and Somme le Roi all speak of Samson and Solomon as fools for love. Chaucer also borrows from a variant on this tradition that perceives Samson as a suicidal lover. Arcite's vow is the direct opposite of Samson's and draws attention to Arcite's self-betrayal.