John’s Page: A Confessio Amantis {Librorum} in Pierpont Morgan Library MS M.126

  • Martha Dana Rust
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In the context of my conception of the medieval manuscript matrix as a perceptual dimension that comes into being through the interplay of diverse systems of representation in a reader’s mind’s eye, the twenty illustrated manuscript witnesses to John Gower’s Confessio Amantis comprise particularly robust sites for an exploration of this phenomenon and for readings of the storylines it encodes.2 For its part, the textual component of those sites—that is, the text of the Confessio—is renowned for its sheer abundance of sources, genres, discursive modes, and even languages: from Ovid and the Bible to folklore, from jeremiad to Breton lai, from exemplum to dialogue, from English to Latin, including ornate and riddling Latin epigraphs, and a Latin prose commentary Gower himself wrote.3 This variegated content is further striated by the poem’s complex architecture. It opens, as Alastair Minnis has shown, with both an “extrinsic” and an “intrinsic” prologue modeled after introductions to late-medieval philosophical treatises.4


Fictional World Imaginary World Manuscript Commentary Reproductive Sexuality Page Break 
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  1. 7.
    Russell A. Peck, Kingship & Common Profit in Gower’s Confessio Amantis (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1978), p. 8.Google Scholar
  2. 19.
    Laura Kendrick, “The Monument and the Margin,” South Atlantic iarterly 91 (1992): 858 [835–64].Google Scholar
  3. 20.
    Rita Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Translation in the Middle Ages: Academic Traditions and Vernacular Texts (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 40.
    Kathleen Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390–1490 (London: Harvey Miller, 1996), 2:322.Google Scholar
  5. 56.
    Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, trans. Ben Brewster (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971), p. 173.Google Scholar

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© Martha Dana Rust 2007

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  • Martha Dana Rust

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