John Gower's French Poetry

(6124 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

The English poet John Gower (d. 1408) composed some 90,000 lines of poetry, roughly divided a third each among the three languages in dominant use by the literate in the London of his day: Latin, Middle English, and Anglo-French (frequently referred to as Anglo-Norman, especially in earlier criticism, albeit not without some controversy today). In this he stands apart from all of his contemporaries, even such as Chaucer and Langland, who left works written only in English. Indeed, Gower’s trilingual achievement establishes him in a category of his own, separate from every English writer, significant or minor, through to the present day. Ample clues attest that such was his intent: to note only the most graphic example, the head of …

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Yeager, RF. "John Gower's French Poetry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 December 2009
[, accessed 06 July 2015.]