John Gower

John Gower (gou´ər, gôr), 1330?–1408, English poet. He was the best-known contemporary and friend of Chaucer, who addressed him as "Moral Gower," at the end of Troilus and Criseyde. Apparently he was a Kentish landowner who lived in London until his last years, when he became blind and retired as a layman to the priory of St. Mary Overey. In the 15th and 16th cent. Gower was frequently paired with Chaucer as a master of English poetry. Each of his three major works, characterized by metrical smoothness and serious moral criticism, was written in a different language. Speculum Meditantis (or Miroir de l'omme, 28,603 French octosyllabic lines, written before 1381) is an allegorical manual of the vices and virtues; Vox Clamantis (10,265 Latin elegiac verses, written c.1381) expresses horror at the Peasants' Revolt led by Wat Tyler and goes on to condemn the baseness of all classes of society; Confessio Amantis, Gower's masterpiece (c.34,000 English lines, written c.1390) is a collection of stories that illustrate the Seven Deadly Sins. Among his minor works are Cinkante Ballades, which are love poems in French, and In Praise of Peace, a poem in English.

See his complete works (ed. by G. C. Macaulay, 4 vol., 1899–1902); selections, ed. by R. A. Peck (1968); studies by J. H. Fisher (1964) and R. A. Peck (1978); bibliography by R. F. Yeager (1981).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Aspects of Love in John Gower's Confessio Amantis
Ellen Shaw Bakalian.
Routledge, 2003
FREE! Tales of the Seven Deadly Sins: Being the Confessio Amantis
John Gower.
G. Routledge and Sons, 1889
Betwene Ernest and Game: The Literary Artistry of the Confessio Amantis
Alexandra Hennessey Olsen.
Peter Lang, 1990
Kingship & Common Profit in Gower's Confessio Amantis
Russell A. Peck.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1978
Pre-Texts: Tables of Contents and the Reading of John Gower's 'Confessio Amantis.'
Echard, Sian.
Medium Aevum, Vol. 66, No. 2, Fall 1997
Literary Genealogy, Virile Rhetoric, and John Gower's Confessio Amantis
Watt, Diane.
Philological Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 4, Fall 1999
The Letter of the Law: Legal Practice and Literary Production in Medieval England
Emily Steiner; Candace Barrington.
Cornell University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Literature of 1388 and the Politics of Pity in Gower's Confessio Amantis"
Pestilence in Medieval and Early Modern English Literature
Bryon Lee Grigsby.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "The Pricke of Conscience and Gower's Mirrour de l'Omme and Confessio Amantis" begins on p. 79
The Orient in Chaucer and Medieval Romance
Carol F. Heffernan.
D.S. Brewer, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Mercantilism and Faith in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean: Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale, Boccaccio's Decameron 5, 2, and Gower's Tale of Constance"
The High Medieval Dream Vision: Poetry, Philosophy, and Literary Form
Kathryn L. Lynch.
Stanford University, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "John Gower's Fourteenth-Century Philosophical Vision"
Political Allegory in Late Medieval England
Ann W. Astell.
Cornell University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Gower's Arion and 'Cithero'"
Fictions of Advice: The Literature and Politics of Counsel in Late Medieval England
Judith Ferster.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "O Political Gower"
Violence against Women in Medieval Texts
Anna Roberts.
University Press of Florida, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Rivalry, Rape, and Manhood: Gower and Chaucer"
History Lessons from the End of Time: Gower and the English Rising of 1381.(poet John Gower)(Critical Essay)
Arner, Lynn.
CLIO, Vol. 31, No. 3, Spring 2002
Fourteenth Century Verse & Prose
Kenneth Sisam.
Oxford University, 1975
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XII "John Gower D. 1408"
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