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By Diane Watt

"Moral Gower" he was once known as by way of buddy and someday rival Geoffrey Chaucer, and his Confessio Amantis has been considered as an basic research of the universe, combining erotic narratives with moral tips and political observation. Diane Watt deals the 1st sustained studying of John Gower's Confessio to argue that this early vernacular textual content deals no actual suggestions to the moral difficulties it raises-and in truth actively encourages "perverse" readings. Drawing on a mixture of queer and feminist concept, moral feedback, and psychoanalytic, historicist, and textual feedback, Watt specializes in the language, intercourse, and politics in Gower's writing. How, she asks, is Gower's Confessio regarding modern controversies over vernacular translation and debates approximately language politics? How is Gower's therapy of rhetoric and language gendered and sexualized, and what bearing does this have at the moral and political constitution of the textual content? what's the dating among the erotic, moral, and political sections of Confessio Amantis? Watt demonstrates that Gower engaged within the kind of serious considering mostly linked to Chaucer and William Langland while that she contributes to fashionable debates concerning the ethics of feedback. Diane Watt is senior lecturer in English on the college of Wales, Aberystwyth.

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Extra info for Amoral Gower: Language, Sex, and Politics

Sample text

The extent of Gower’s familiarity with Dante’s Commedia is unknown,11 and Gower does not at any point mention either Latini’s crime or his compendium. 12 This, the penultimate book of Confessio, interrupts the series of narratives structured around the lover’s confession and his priest’s exposition of the seven deadly sins. ”13 My own discussion of the political dimensions of Book VII of Confessio occurs in Chapter 5, below. Here my focus is restricted to the discussion of language that is embedded within Book VII.

Similarly, Confessio itself has a dialogic or polyphonic form insofar as there is a dialectic relationship between the English texts and the Latin verses and glosses. Linguistically then, the poem is divided; the various “voices” of the poem often contradict each other, or are at odds with one another in a number of different ways. In fact the Confessio as a whole might be viewed as an example of the carnivalesque, in which the lover’s confession to a very secular priest (Genius, as the servant of Venus) is a semiparody of a religious ritual, perhaps even a travesty of a Church sacrament.

101 More recently however, the research of A. I. Doyle and Malcolm Parkes, Siân Echard, Jeremy Griffiths, and others has questioned sometimes one and occasionally both of these hypotheses, with varying degrees of ferocity and conciliation. We have already seen, for example, that scribes, illustrators, readers, as well as changes in reading patterns may have had their impact on the content and appearance, indeed the physical makeup, of the text. ”103 Echard’s main concern in this particular essay is with the competing and often conflicting English and Latin voices in the poem.

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