London, Southwark, Westminster: Gower's Urban Contexts

Epstein, Robert

London, Southwark, Westminster: Gower's Urban Contexts

Epstein, Robert. "London, Southwark, Westminster: Gower's Urban Contexts." In A Companion to Gower. Ed. Echard, Siân. Cambridge: Brewer, 2004, pp. 43-60.

Discusses the social geography of the three adjacent communities with which Gower had connections. He explores the difficulties of reconstructing Gower's audience, particularly of associating him directly with those who are though to have made up the "Chaucer circle." He also notes some paradoxes in the relation between Gower's writing and his life: that the man who spent nearly his entire life in Southwark should have so little to say about the city, its government, or the majority of its citizens; and that a poet with so little personal or professional ties to the monarchy should be been so preoccupied with the nature and responsibilities of kingship. "Gower's uniquely urban condition," he concludes, "as a non-bureaucratic, non-aristocratic, privately employed professional, allowed him to develop a sense of the poet that was elevated in its autonomy, in its self-regard and in its ambition--but that required a strong and attentive monarch to legitimize his voice and to realize his social visions" (60). [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 24.1]


Gower Subjects
Biography of Gower