Confessio Amantis; Or, Tales of the Seven Deadly Sins
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Belletristik / Lyrik, Dramatik
1330-1408 A.D. Confessio Amantis ("The Lover's Confession") is a 33,000-line Middle English poem by John Gower, which uses the confession made by an ageing lover to the chaplain of Venus as a frame story for a collection of shorter narrative poems. According to its prologue, it was composed at the request of Richard II. It stands with the works of Chaucer, Langland, and the Pearl poet as one of the great works of late 14th-century English literature. The Index of Middle English Verse shows that in the era before the printing press it was one of the most-often copied manuscripts (59 copies) along with Canterbury Tales (72 copies) and Piers Plowman (63 copies). In genre it is usually considered a poem of consolation, a medieval form inspired by Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy and typified by works such as Pearl. Despite this, it is more usually studied alongside other tale collections with similar structures, such as the Decameron of Boccaccio, and particularly Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, with which the Confessio has several stories in common. Gower's previous works had been written in Anglo-Norman French and Latin. It is not certain why he chose to write his third long poem in English; the only reason Gower himself gives is that "fewe men endite In oure englyssh" (prol.22–23). It has been suggested that it was the influence of Chaucer, who had in part dedicated his Troilus and Criseyde to Gower, that persuaded him that the vernacular was a suitable language for poetry, and the influence of Chaucer's Legend of Good Women has been detected in the Confessio (Macaulay 1908:sec 23).