Spelling and Tradition in Fifteenth-century Copies of Gower's "Confessio Amantis."

Smith, Jeremy J.

Spelling and Tradition in Fifteenth-century Copies of Gower's "Confessio Amantis."

Smith, Jeremy J. "Spelling and Tradition in Fifteenth-century Copies of Gower's Confessio Amantis" In M. L. Samuels, and J. J. Smith, The English of Chaucer and His Contemporaries." Aberdeen: The University Press,1988. Pp. 96-113.

Smith makes two important observations about the orthographical tradition of CA MSS: first, that the distinctive language of the archetype was preserved far more strongly than one would expect or that happened in contemporary copies of CT, a fact he attributes to the status as "auctoritas" that Gower seems to have enjoyed; and second, that there was only slight influence from the "Chancery" forms that were to become the basis of the written standard. In the last part of his essay he takes up the question of the textual transmission of CA, and observes that the MSS of the groups that Macaulay labelled "first recension, unrevised," "first recension, intermediate," and "second recension (b)" seem to derive from an exemplar with a number of North-West Midlands features. His suggestions on how this situation arose appear to accept Macaulay's explanation of the order of appearance of these groups. In fact, his observations are consistent with other evidence that Macaulay got the order wrong, and that the groups he thought were first in origin were actually those furthest removed both in time and place from the poet himself. The Appendix to this essay contains a valuable list of the MSS of CA with notes on the language forms of each. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 9.1]


Gower Subjects
Manuscripts and Textual Studies
Language and Word Studies
Confessio Amantis