Book Series Studies and Texts , vol. 226

Gower and Anglo-Latin Verse

David R. Carlson

  • Pages: 358 p.
  • Size:152 x 229 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2022

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-226-0
  • Hardback
  • Available


This study offers a novel paradigm for explaining the late-medieval Anglo-Latin verse, by analyzing the development of the writings of the English poet John Gower (ca. 1330–1408), who made major contributions to English- and French-language poetry, in addition to being the pre-eminent Latin poet of the “Age of Chaucer.”

 In addition to translating amongst the three languages in which he worked, Gower invented a plain style for Latin “public poetry” that was like his better-known English-language Confessio amantis in emphasizing regular prosodic simplicity; and his plain style was emulated by other Anglo-Latin poets. Gower’s Latin public poetry contradicts the other kinds of Latin verse in use in England at the time: on the one hand, the demotic accentual-syllabic rhymed verse in use amongst clerical controversialists and other kinds of social polemicists, characterized by language-mixing and prosodic fluidity within individual poems; and on the other, the hyper-sophisticated poetria nova of the schoolmen. At the end of his career, however, Gower rejected his own plain-style Latin-verse invention to take up instead the late scholastic style, but only at the moment of its decadence, when the humanist neo-classicism that disdained scholasticism would already have begun to arrive in England.