John Gower's French

Yeager, R.F

John Gower's French

Yeager, R.F. "John Gower's French." In A Companion to Gower. Ed. Echard, Siân. Cambridge: Brewer, 2004, pp. 137-51.

Surveys Gower's surviving works in his other vernacular. After giving careful attention to their survival in MS, Yeager has much to say about the quality of both Gower's verse and prose, about the uniqueness of conception of his works, particularly MO and CB, and about the significance of the fact that these works are in French. MO, he notes, has a breadth and ambition unprecedented in any of the works that have been identified as its possible sources, but it is unified, first of all by its "envelope of amorous address" (143), the invocation of "chascun amant" at the beginning, and the lyrical prayer to the virgin at the end; and second, by its examination, through is description of the vices and virtues, of good and bad desire. CB has a narrative structure centered on the poet-narrator's decision to absent himself for the sake of his lady's reputation, which leads to a more complete union based on trust and actual devotion rather than mere desire. In both these works, Gower "use[s] the culture of French courtly writing against itself" (144): he transcends the "essential immorality" (147) of courtly literature and reclaims it for legitimate love. [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 24.1]


Gower Subjects
Cinkante Balades
Mirour de l'Omme (Speculum Meditantis)