John Gower and the Structures of Conversion

A Reading of the "Confessio Amantis"

Serie: Publications of the John Gower Society v.4

This book examines the significance of John Gower's re-creations ofthe cultural past in the Confessio Amantis through the storiesand teachings of the confessor, Genius. Although the poem has manyof the attributes of a compilation, Gower reforms material to createa range of 'wise' responses to important moral questions, intendedto sharpen his readers' judgment and nurture their capacity to dealwith the uncertainties of the moral life. Les mer
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This book examines the significance of John Gower's re-creations ofthe cultural past in the Confessio Amantis through the storiesand teachings of the confessor, Genius. Although the poem has manyof the attributes of a compilation, Gower reforms material to createa range of 'wise' responses to important moral questions, intendedto sharpen his readers' judgment and nurture their capacity to dealwith the uncertainties of the moral life. Olsson analyses thepoet's conversions of old to new as an effort to inspire the moralrenewal of the age. He contends that the poet sees the past as thekey to the regeneration of the world. In this reading, the past, anever-new and renewable repository of wisdom, also holds a promisefor Amans, who learns that he is an old man unfit to serve in Venus'scourt. Thus the author perceives Gower to offer a strong, responsive and balanced moral vision to an age seemingly victimised by change. KURT OLSSON is Professor of English at theUniversity of Idaho; this, his first book, was awarded the prestigious Fisher Prize.

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