Sciences and the Self in Medieval Poetry: Alan of Lille's Anticlaudianus and John Gower's Confessio Amantis

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This study examines two great poems of the later medieval period, the Latin philosophical epic, Alan of Lille's Anticlaudianus (1181-3), and John Gower's English poem, the Confessio Amantis (1390-3). James Simpson locates these works in a cultural context dominated by two kinds of literary humanism, in which the concept of self is centered in the intellect and the imagination respectively, and shows the very different modes of thought that lie behind their conceptions of selfhood and education.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"For Simpson both poems point to a sophisticated psychology of faculties that each poet sees as pedagogic purpose of reading their works. This approach to reading these particular works provides many bridges of relevance for a contemporary reader while at the same time educating one to equally important readings in other poets like Chaucer and Dante for example. Highly recommended for its lively approach to reading medieval philosophic poems." The Reader's Review

"Sciences and the Seld in Medieva Poetry is unquestionably an importnat book, a necessary book, for anyone who takes either Alan or Gower seriously. Its influence on studies of the Anticlaudianus, the Confessio, and its place in the ongoing conversation about high medieval humanism, will be significant. Simpson shows his mettle here as a scholar of the very best kind-vigorous, contrarian, and wise." R.F. Yeager, Modern Philology

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Product Details

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. The outer form of the Anticlaudianus; 3. A preposterous interpretation of the Anticlaudianus; 4. Alan's philosopher-king; 5. Ovidian disunity in Gower's Confessio Amantis; 6. Genius's psychological information in Book III; 7. The primacy of politics in the Confessio Amantis; 8. Poetics; 9. Conclusion: varieties of humanist politics.

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