John Gower.

Author/Editor
Yeager, R. F.

Title
John Gower.

Published
Yeager, R.F. "John Gower" in Écrivains juristes et juristes écrivains du Moyen Âge au siècle des Lumières, ed. Bruno Méniel (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2015), pp, 648-652. ISBN 9782812451461.

Review
Yeager provides an overview of John Gower's engagement, in life and works, with the procedures, lexis and literary-creative influence of common (or civil) law. Biographical facts and conjectures are rehearsed (period of birth; county of origin; possible social, armigerous extraction and filiation; vexed 'striped-sleeves motif' at Mirour de l'Omme 21772-74; landed estate ownership and acquisition, including the 'Septvauns Case'; elaborate testament concerning real estate and chattels), all shown to evince vigorous, if involved, response to law and its proceedings. Moving on to the textual/literary level, Yeager reviews a number of passages (in Mirour, Vox, Cronica, Confessio) clearly indicative of the poet's writing under multi-sided, common-legal influence across his exceptionally trilingual corpus, critically addressing socio-literary topics from estates to justice and kingship to procedures of love as trial and verdict: "[Gower's] scathing critique of aspects of the judicial system and profession in general; the overt presence of legal terms in his trilingual writings; and often enough the almost judicial presentation of narrative matter have seemed to many largely to prove exact legal knowledge, if not first-hand practice" (650). Yeager thus contributes to a current revival of looking into the case for a "legal Gower." Yet missing from his account is how Gower's oeuvre also reflects forms of possibly rudimentary, yet significant absorption of canon law. Still unstudied is how Gower would have known about it, most conceivably (if not any earlier) through his exceptionally long residence at the Augustinian priory at Southwark facilitating familiarisation with canon law and ensuing synodal legislation (distinctive components of regular canons' habitus). The poems nevertheless reflect a sizeable awareness of that domain, especially in discussions of matrimony or socio-religious estates, not least Mirour (notably at 16081-92 ff., and 17137-748; both laws are in syntactic and prosodic equipoise at 16092 and 17140) and Traitié pour Essempler les Amantz Marietz." [J-PP. Copyright. John Gower Society. eJGN 36.2]

Date
2015

Gower Subjects
Biography of Gower
Language and Word Studies
Vox Clamantis
Mirour de l’Omme (Speculum Meditantis)
Cronica Tripertita
Confessio Amantis
Traité pour Essampler les Amants Marietz