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Medicine, passion and sin in Gower
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies. (UGPS)
2013 (English)In: SPELL : Swiss papers in English language and literature, Vol. 28, 117-130 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article discusses the presentation of wrath and envy, primarily in the Middle English poem the Confessio Amantis, but with some references to the French Mirror of Man, as a means of exploring the fourteenth-century English poet John Gower’s understanding of the body, medicine and sin. Wrath and envy present interesting case studies as Gower claims that they are the most unnatural of the seven sins. Yet wrath and envy are richly embodied in both his poetry, as well as contemporary medical and pastoral literature as will be shown. The essay argues for the hitherto unnoticed importance of medicine in understanding Gower’s poetry. I would specifically like to address the question of whether wrath, envy and other passions cause or are metaphors for, sin, in Gower's representations of these passions. By attending to human physiology, Gower invites the reader to recognize their shared human weakness, particularly in reference to the passions (emotions) and the predisposition to sin: his text thus fosters co-passion or compassion in his reader, as I will argue.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Gunter Narr Verlag, 2013. Vol. 28, 117-130 p.
Keyword [en]
Medieval Literature, Religion, Seven Deadly Sins, Envy, Wrath, Passion, Sin, History of Medicine, Gower
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-83005OAI: diva2:664515
Available from: 2013-11-15 Created: 2013-11-15 Last updated: 2016-04-05

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