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On the Edge: Chaucer and Gower’s Queer Glosses

Magnani, R and Watt, Diane (2018) On the Edge: Chaucer and Gower’s Queer Glosses Postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies, 9 (3). pp. 269-288.

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In the Introduction to the Man of Law’s Tale, the pilgrim implicitly compares favourably the poet Chaucer to his contemporary and friend Gower, stating that (unlike Gower, to whom we assume he is alluding), Chaucer ‘no word ne writeth he’ of the ‘wikke ensample’ of Canace or of the ‘cursed kyng Antiochus’ (III.77-8, 82). The reason we assume the Man of Law is alluding to Gower is that both the Tale of Canace and Machaire, and the story of Antiochus in the Tale of Apollonius of Tyre are related within Gower’s Confessio Amantis, with the latter appearing as the last and longest narrative in this expansive collection. Critics have long argued about the significance of this passage, one of a handful in their works in which the poets refer to one another either directly or indirectly. In this article, however, we are less interested in seeing in this passage evidence of either a feud or a friendly rivalry, than in thinking through what it might reveal about the ways in which these poets, and their readers, might be experimenting with ideas of authority and interpretation. Our argument here is that both Gower, Chaucer and indeed some of their readers—as revealed through the glossing of Gower’s English text, and the glossing in Chaucer’s manuscripts—are acutely aware of the risks, and sometimes the pleasures, of misprision or queer (mis-)interpretation.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages
Authors :
Magnani, R
Date : 20 September 2018
Copyright Disclaimer : This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies. The definitive publisher-authenticated version: Magnani, R. & Watt, D. Postmedieval (2018) 9: 269. is available online at:
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 20 Feb 2018 10:25
Last Modified : 20 Sep 2019 02:08

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