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© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

John Gower: Selected full-text books and articles

Kingship & Common Profit in Gower's Confessio Amantis By Russell A. Peck Southern Illinois University Press, 1978
Literary Genealogy, Virile Rhetoric, and John Gower's Confessio Amantis By Watt, Diane Philological Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 4, Fall 1999
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Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Letter of the Law: Legal Practice and Literary Production in Medieval England By 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 By 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 By 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 By Kathryn L. Lynch Stanford University, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "John Gower's Fourteenth-Century Philosophical Vision"
Political Allegory in Late Medieval England By 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 By Judith Ferster University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "O Political Gower"
Violence against Women in Medieval Texts By Anna Roberts University Press of Florida, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Rivalry, Rape, and Manhood: Gower and Chaucer"
Fourteenth Century Verse & Prose By Kenneth Sisam Oxford University, 1975
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XII "John Gower D. 1408"
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