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By Diane Watt

"Moral Gower" he was once referred to as by means of pal and someday rival Geoffrey Chaucer, and his Confessio Amantis has been seen as an easy research of the universe, combining erotic narratives with moral suggestions and political remark. Diane Watt deals the 1st sustained interpreting of John Gower's Confessio to argue that this early vernacular textual content bargains no genuine strategies to the moral difficulties it raises-and actually actively encourages "perverse" readings. Drawing on a mixture of queer and feminist thought, 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 on the topic of 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 courting among the erotic, moral, and political sections of Confessio Amantis? Watt demonstrates that Gower engaged within the type of severe considering regularly linked to Chaucer and William Langland whilst that she contributes to trendy debates concerning the ethics of feedback. Diane Watt is senior lecturer in English on the collage of Wales, Aberystwyth.

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

Example text

55 Members of Gower’s own immediate circle may well have been more vulnerable, in theory if not in reality. 56 Gower himself seems to have assumed that the vernacular theology, like the political and social commentary, embedded in his texts—the biblical quotations, translations, and expositions—was not fundamentally dangerous, presumably because it was directed at an upper-class or upper-middle-class lay audience rather than at society as a whole. If Gower’s texts are congenial to perverse (mis)interpretation, Gower presumably did not intend them to reach truly radical readers.

1017–31) For Gower, Babel signifies the discord within society, and the division of languages is just one aspect of the confusion that results from sin. ) But by the time Gower came to write Confessio, that is, by the time he decided to write in the vernacular, he must also have been aware that his own poetic discourse had become a hybrid. A mixing of “high” and “low,” prestige and vernacular languages, it was itself a cacophony, a confusion of voices, a veritable Tower of Babel. Looked at from a rather different perspective, however, it might be that in implicating the multiplicity of languages, and thus his own verses in Anglo-Norman, Latin, and English (and his Latin glosses), in the Fall, Gower is again drawing a parallel between language and sexuality.

Such research not only provides us with a text to work with, but also gives us essential information about the production, circulation, and reception of that text from its inception to the present day. But just as there is no single definitive authorial text of Confessio Amantis, so there cannot and should not be one single definitive reading of the poem. What the present study intends to do is to offer the sort of speculative reading of Confessio Amantis that has been so lacking in recent years.

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