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Nature, Sex, and Goodness in a Medieval Literary Tradition$
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Hugh White

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198187301

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198187301.001.0001

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(p.256) Conclusion
Nature, Sex, and Goodness in a Medieval Literary Tradition

Hugh White

Oxford University Press

This chapter suggests that the unsatisfactoriness of the natural for Chaucer and Gower was inevitable because they were much concerned with nature as promoter of sexual love; and in late medieval culture sexual love and reason were inevitably at odds. Nevertheless, they are greatly interested in the natural precisely as it offers the prospect of concord between love and reason, the body and the spirit, the self-oriented and the altruistic, earth and heaven. Dante certainly moved towards it and in England, the Gawain-poet was emphatically affirmative about the goodness of the natural in sex. However, It is also noticeable that Chaucer's great contemporaries Langland, the Gawain-poet, and Julian of Norwich all strongly affirm the mercy of God and celebrate the natural.

Keywords:   Dante, Gawain-poet, sexual love, Gower, Chaucer, divine mercy, natural, Julian of Norwich, Langland

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