French Culture and the Ricardian Court.

Butterfield, Ardis.

French Culture and the Ricardian Court.

Minnis, A. J., Charlotte Morse, and Thorlac Turville-Petre, eds. "Essays on Ricardian Literature in Honour of J.A. Burrow." Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. Pp. 82-120.

Butterfield offers a subtle and well-informed examination of the inter-penetration of French and English literary culture during the Ricardian period, emphasizing the mutuality of cultural influences that was a natural product of the close family ties between royal and aristocratic houses in contrast to a common tendency (among Anglophone writers) to emphasize the distinctness of the English from the French. In a brief consideration of the puy as an example of cultural imitation, Butterfield dismisses the suggestion of Gower's association as far-fetched since there is no evidence of continuity much beyond 1300; and in her discussion of the practice of quoting already existing refrains in new compositions she cites CB 25. In the final part of her essay she gives more direct attention to Gower as one whose works are "supremely poised between linguistic cultures" (p. 107). She compares CB 37 to a ballade of Guillaume Machaut, not to establish borrowing, though an argument for at least indirect influence would not be difficult to make, but to demonstrate how thoroughly at home Gower is in contemporary French poetic idiom, contrary to the judgment of those who have seen either a discontinuity with French courtly writing or a reaction against it in Gower's work. She also gives brief consideration to Traite as a conclusion to CA, which it follows in 8 of the 10 MSS in which it is preserved. There is more than a single paradox to the relation, Butterfield points out, as Gower turns to more love poetry immediately after renouncing any further writing about love, and as he draws upon the authority of French to offer a very un-French defense of married love, creating an instability that is typical of the "endemic restlessness" of Gower's poetic career and his constant habit of setting up "oblique contrasts between different kinds of cultural perspectives" (p. 120). [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 20.1]


Gower Subjects
Language and Word Studies
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Cinkante Balades
Traité pour Essampler les Amants Marietz