Session Proposal for IV International Congress of the John Gower Society
Sponsored by The Gower Project
Organizer: Georgiana Donavin: (Contact information below)
Moderator: Elizabeth Archibald Session Title: Apollonius and Pericles: Manuscripts, Rhetoric, Performance, and Desire
This session connects manuscripts of the Confessio Amantis, early readings of “Apollonius of Tyre,” rhetorical teachings, and current theoretical perspectives with late medieval and early modern adaptations of Gower’s work. Presenters will discuss Robert Copland’s Romance of Kynge Apollyn of Thyre and Shakespeare’s Pericles as they develop multiple receptions of “Apollonius of Tyre.” The following abstracts appear in the order of the presenters.
Dept. of English
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5331
Remediating Gower’s Apollonius of Tyre:
From The Romance of Kynge Apollyn of Thyre to Pericles
While a considerable amount of work has been done on the sources and transmission of the romance of Apollonius of Tyre, less work has been focused on the narrative beyond Gower’s treatment of it in Book 8 of the Confessio Amantis. This paper considers the early printed edition of Robert Copland’s Romance of Kynge Apollyn of Thyre (1510), a translation of Le Romant de Appollin Roy de Thir (1482) which, at least one scholar surmises was “composed for a listening as well as a reading public.” I would suggest that this text contributes to a culture of public performance epitomized in Shakespeare’s Pericles (1609), and advances the claim that the poet is like a dramaturg who thinks “theatrically.” Features of the dialogue between Genius and Amans, no less than the dramatic action of the tales themselves, point to the performability of the Confessio’s narratives. Likewise, the dialogic structure in Copland’s Kyng Apollyn as well as his anticipation of an audience of readers AND listeners (“Y beseche all the reders and herers of this present hystorye”), as noted in his prologue, lend the early printed text a vocal dimension. While Copland’s translation of the Apollonius story is not considered to be an immediate source for Shakespeare’s Pericles, its emphasis on the narrative voice, dialogue between characters (Appolyn sayd / the kynge sayd, for instance), and dramatic action (frozen into many vivid woodcuts) constitute aspects of performance that render the narrative ripe for remediation in an art form that captures the drama of Gower’s Confessio.
1840 S. 1300 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Gower’s Repetitio in Shakespeare’s Pericles
Gower scholarship is in the early stages of mapping the poet’s approaches to rhetoric. This paper focuses on the rhetorical figure of repetitio, the most powerful adornment of Gower’s plain style, and the ways in which the ordination of certain Confessio Amantis manuscripts, especially Newberry Library MS 33.5, focus on teaching repetitio. Gowerian repetitio was taught in trivium studies in early modern England, and Shakespeare’s Pericles manifests that pedagogy. While Gower critics such as Helen Cooper and Martha Driver have evaluated Shakespeare’s perceptions of the Confessio Amantis, and Shakespeare scholars such as Nona Fienberg and Deanne Williams have analyzed Pericles’s rhetoric, especially the powerful speeches by the daughter of the eponymous hero, no one to date has noticed the direct connection between the style of various speeches in Pericles and ways that the Confessio Amantis was used in early modern England to impart the figures of speech. After demonstrating manuscript marginalia and didactic texts suggesting that English renaissance humanists most valued the language of the Confessio Amantis for its plain style redolent with repetitio, this paper will show how this style surfaces in Pericles: in speeches made by Gower the Chorus, Marina the moralizer, and Pericles himself. A plain, repetitive style certainly fits Pericles’s recursive plot, modeled on Gower’s “Apollonius of Tyre,” and illustrates how early modern tutorials in Gowerian repetitio surfaced on the English stage.
412 W. Seneca St.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Incest and the Grammar of Desire: Narrative Control in Confessio Amantis and Pericles
The tales of incest pervading Confessio Amantis serve as instruction not only in sexual taboos, but also in grammatical metaphors for narration. As Jan Ziolkowski notes, grammatical terms have been cast in sexual metaphors at least since Alan of Lille, and Gower extends Alain’s practice by deploying sexual metaphors for narration and authorial influence. It is particularly potent that the long poem complaining “love is falle into discord” includes so many tales of incest (120). Scattered across Confessio’s eight books and concluding the whole, these tales produce anxiety about post-Edenic procreation and the close relation of an author to source materials. Gower connects incest to the retelling of stories, to the anxiety that comes from vernacular translation and adaptation of a much older text. Gower’s consistent return to incest as a narrative structure is a question of grammar because Confessio Amantis is, in part, an exploration of what constitutes a tale and the syntax of adaptation. This paper argues that, like Gower, Shakespeare (and Wilkins?) express anxiety about authorial relations by focusing on incest narratives. Shakespeare chose Gower’s “Apollonius of Tyre” as a text for adaptation partly for its concern with incestuous plot lines and transmission. Shakespeare, also indebted to his auctor, allows the incest of his source-text to continue, but by the final act, he demonstrates control over retelling. Through subtle manipulation of the grammar of Pericles’s blazon to Marina, Shakespeare prevents incest between Marina and Pericles, and embraces the metaphor of incest to prevent its actualization.