The Poetry of 'Things' in Gower, 'The Great Gatsby,' and Chaucer

Putter, Ad

The Poetry of 'Things' in Gower, 'The Great Gatsby,' and Chaucer

Putter, Ad. "The Poetry of 'Things' in Gower, 'The Great Gatsby,' and Chaucer." In The Construction of Textual Identity in Medieval and Early Modern Literature. Ed. Ghose, Indira, and Renevey, Denis. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 2009, pp. 63-82. ISBN 9783823365204

Putter describes his aim as a consideration of "the use of the word 'thing' in a range of Middle English writings (Gower, Chaucer and mystical authors)." He "argues that the vagueness of the word can paradoxically be a source of strength. Gower in his "Confessio Amantis" and Chaucer in "Troilus and Criseyde" use 'thing' with a lively sense of its power to conceal and tantalize, and in mystical writings and Chaucer's 'Second Nun's Tale' its blankness becomes suggestive of the darkness of God." (63). Putter is particularly intriguing in his application of Derrida's notion of "true secrets," Lacan's 'l'objet petit a," and Žižek's argument that the "paradox of desire" is that if "we mistake for postponement of the 'thing itself' what is already 'the thing itself,' we mistake for the searching and indecision of desire what is, in fact, the realization of desire," (68); and equally if not more informative in his animadversions on the meanings of "thing" apparent in Middle English usage. [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 33.2.]


Gower Subjects
Language and Word Studies
Confessio Amantis