'Confessio Amantis' and the French Tradition

Butterfield, Ardis

'Confessio Amantis' and the French Tradition

Butterfield, Ardis. "'Confessio Amantis' and the French Tradition." In A Companion to Gower. Ed. Echard, Siân. Cambridge: Brewer, 2004, pp. 165-80.

Discusses Gower's relation to Guillaume de Lorris, Jean de Meun, and their successors Machaut and Froissart. All these poets, she writes, "are preoccupied by a desire to investigate the relationship between writing and the self, the kind of access a writer has to truth, and how the art of fiction both enables and inhibits this access. In all these writers, the figure of the lover acts as one of the main ways for them to represent the art of writing: the lover generates the poetry, and indeed is often represented as a poet" (165). So too Gower creates a "precarious distinction" (180) between poet and lover before collapsing the two roles at the poem's end, and he also includes Genius as a way of doubling his presence: "Genius is the interlocutor of the author and at the same time an internalized projection of him" (177). The confession frame is also enlisted in the exploration of the topic of identity. "Working within the central tradition of French writers," Butterfield concludes, love "becomes for him, as for them, a way of examining the art of fiction, and hence the multiple art of confessing the self" (180). [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 24.1]


Gower Subjects
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis