Gower's Reputation

Echard, Siân

Gower's Reputation

Echard, Siân. "Gower's Reputation." In A Companion to Gower. Ed. Echard, Siân. Cambridge: Brewer, 2004, pp. 1-22.

Echard identifies five recurring themes in the critical response to the poet: his identity as "moral Gower," his political views, his choice of language, his relation to his sources, and both his personal and his literary relation to Chaucer. She traces these in large part to the poet's own deliberate self-fashioning, to "the qualities that he made central to his own poetic ethos" (17), and she points out how Gower's reputation has shifted over the centuries as each of these has provided either a stick with which to beat the poet (primarily during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) or as an opening to a greater understanding of his work (more recently), as, for instance, critics have taken a broader interest in the implications of "moral," in the complex issues of a poet's self-presentation, and in the political and ideological implications of the choice between Latin and the vernacular. That broadening of understanding is admirably illustrated by the writers that follow in this volume, and Echard's essay serves both to situate their contributions and to tie together the diverse approaches. [PN. Copyright John Gower Society. JGN 24.1]


Gower Subjects
Backgrounds and General Studies
Influence and Later Allusion
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations