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By Diane Watt

"Moral Gower" he was once known as by means of pal and someday rival Geoffrey Chaucer, and his Confessio Amantis has been considered as an easy research of the universe, combining erotic narratives with moral information and political observation. Diane Watt deals the 1st sustained interpreting of John Gower's Confessio to argue that this early vernacular textual content bargains no actual options to the moral difficulties it raises-and actually actively encourages "perverse" readings. Drawing on a mixture of queer and feminist conception, moral feedback, and psychoanalytic, historicist, and textual feedback, Watt makes a speciality of the language, intercourse, and politics in Gower's writing. How, she asks, is Gower's Confessio with regards to modern controversies over vernacular translation and debates approximately language politics? How is Gower's remedy 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 type of serious considering on the whole linked to Chaucer and William Langland even as 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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Additional resources for Amoral Gower: Language, Sex, and Politics

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3 Although Dante classifies sodomy as a species of violence against God (placing it alongside blasphemy and usury),4 it may be no coincidence that Latini’s companions in suffering are all notable litterati, scholars for whom the love of learning was of paramount importance. A causal connection between vanity and idolatry and both female and male homosexuality was well established in the Middle Ages and can be traced back to the teachings of St. ”) Latini’s concern for the survival of his book and seeming disregard for the state of his own soul—his lack of penitence—can be seen as evidence of pride and self-adulation.

Such a reader could be described as the metaphorical rapist of both poem and poet. It is as if Gower were announcing at the start of the poem that despite its lofty themes, neither he nor it is inviolate. Gower conjures up the specter of an abusive and potentially sodomitical relationship between reader and text/author, only to dismiss it immediately. 23 24 G o w e r’ s B a b e l T o w e r The threat of the perverse reading may be repressed but Gower cannot escape its return. It is exactly this sort of creative yet crude and disruptive “misreading” that will be the focus of my analysis in the next section of this chapter, in which I examine some examples of the troubled sexual politics of grammatical gender in Gower’s English, Anglo-Norman, and Latin writings.

91 Some represent Amans as a fashionable young lover, as he arguably appears for much of the poem. A bizarre and unique example of this type occurs in London, British Library MS Add. Harley 3869, in which Amans appears as an elaborately dressed figure in a large brown hat, engaged in earnest conversation with his priest (Figure 1). 2367–71). Jeremy Griffiths shares Burrow’s opinion that Gower was not responsible for the confessor miniature, on the grounds that “to decide to illus- Introduction Figure 1.

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