Gower’s Manuscript of the Confessio Amantis

  • Peter Nicholson
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


One of the greatest contributions that Terry Jones has made to medieval studies has been to compel us to return to questions that we thought were already decided and to reexamine the evidence for our conclusions. In an essay published in 1987 in which I made an effort to minimize John Gower’s role in the production of the manuscript copies of his work, I pointed out that the Fairfax manuscript of the Confessio Amantis contains several additions to the text that appear to be intended to move a large decorated initial into the first line of the next column.1 There was a paradox there that I dismissed rather than resolved, but Terry’s inquiries about the way in which Fairfax was revised have made me revisit the question of its origin and arrive, finally, at a somewhat different answer than I did before.


English Text White Space Additional Passage Blank Line Early Manuscript 
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  1. 1.
    Peter Nicholson, “Poet and Scribe in the Manuscripts of Gower’s Confessio Amantis,” in Manuscripts and Texts: Editorial Problems in Later Middle English Literature, ed. Derek Pearsall (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1987), 134–35 [130–42].Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Derek Pearsall, “The Organisation of the Latin Apparatus in Gower’s Confessio Amantis: The Scribes and their Problems,” in The Medieval Book and a Modern Collector: Essays in Honour of Toshiyuki Takamiya, ed. Takami Matsuda, Richard Linenthal, and John Scahill (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2004), 99–100 [99–112]; and “The Manuscripts and Illustrations of Gower’s Works,” in A Companion to Gower, ed. Siân Echard (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2004), 80–81 [73–97].Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Michael Samuels and Jeremy J. Smith, “The Language of Gower,” in The English of Chaucer and His Contemporaries, ed. Jeremy J. Smith (Aberdeen, Scotland: Aberdeen University Press, 1988), 21 [13–22].Google Scholar
  4. 22.
    See the helpful table in Jeremy Griffiths, “Confessio Amantis: The Poem and Its Pictures,” in Gower’s Confessio Amantis: Responses and Reassessments, ed. Alastair Minnis (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1983), 177 [163–78].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© R. F. Yeager and Toshiyuki Takamiya 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Nicholson

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