Constructing the Virtual Family: Socializing Grief in John Gower's “Tale of Apollonius of Tyre”
Author: Lim, Gary
Source: Exemplaria, Volume 22, Number 4, Winter 2010 , pp. 326-348(23)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:Extended scenes of loss and mourning are key innovations in John Gower's “Tale of Apollonius of Tyre.” Judith Butler's ideas concerning loss and identity illuminate the ways in which loss and its commemoration constitute the family by suggesting certain modes of grief are recognizable and certain losses are mournable by society. The problematic response to loss is shown in Antiochus's incest, in which traces of grief are coded in his gnomic riddle. While loss unhinges masculine identities, as evinced in Antiochus's incest and Apollonius's initial reaction to his wife's death at sea, the tale also shows how properly socialized loss restores a measure of patriarchal authority. The constitutive power of rituals commemorating loss creates a virtual family when none is present, and this version of the family confers political and social authority on Apollonius. At the same time, the vulnerability that Apollonius experiences in loss forms the basis for a community of grief that joins a ruler with his people.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Publication date: 2010-12-01