Total Pageviews

Sunday, August 22, 2021

John Gower and Confessio Amantis

John Gower,Confessio Amantis,Speculum Meditantis,Vox Clamantis

John Gower and Confessio Amantis

John Gower, who lived between 1325 and 1408, was Chaucer's contemporary, and had, perhaps, some intimacy with him. Of course, he was more medieval than the great master and was a little behind his time. His major works, mainly narrative, were written in the eighties of the fourteenth century, at a time when Chaucer had already reached the height of his literary excellence.

Gower's first important work, Speculum Hommes or Speculum Meditantis is in French. This is a long sermon against the sins of the time. His next work Vox Clamantis is in Latin. This is a dream allegory with a socio-political theme. This is about the peasants' uprising of the fourteenth century.

John Gower's last important work, produced in 1383-84, is in English. This is Confessio Amantis, an ambitious project, to present in pleasing verses numerous stories, taken from various sources.

The work, which is a long compilation of 40,000 octosyllabic lines, contains more than a hundred stories of varying lengths and from diverse sources, from the Holy Bible to Ovid. There is a well-set plan to tell some engaging tales in a simple and melodious style.

Gower's work is well-planned, but not properly executed. It marks little originality in his imagination or in his ideas. The influence of Chaucer on him is, no doubt, patent, but there is no Chaucerian sense of proportion and control over the total structure. Moreover, the constant moralizing trend and the conventional bias of the middle ages, expressed in him, weary and make him more mechanically medieval. Gower has also neither the skill of character portraits nor the sense of wit and humor, so prominently found in Chaucer.

Gower's writing, however, is not without literary qualities. His originality, as a storyteller in verse, is amply evident. No previous author is found to have versified so large a collection of stories or devised such an ingenious and elaborate scheme of combination. Moreover, Gower's mode of narration is simple and straightforward and he never becomes tedious in his story-telling. His descriptive art is well combined with his meditative depth. His language is developed and polished that marks the cultured London dialect - the King's English.

No comments:

Post a Comment