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Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Poetry of Religious Experience


Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: September 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107180451

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About the Authors
  • This nuanced yet accessible study is the first to examine the range of religious experience imagined in Hopkins's writing. By exploring the shifting way in which Hopkins imagines religious belief in individual history, Martin Dubois contests established views of his poetry as a unified project. Combining detailed close readings with extensive historical research, Dubois argues that the spiritual awareness manifest in Hopkins's poetry is varied and fluctuating, and that this is less a failure of his intellectual system than a sign of the experiential character of much of his poetry's thought. Individual chapters focus on biblical language and prayer, as well as on the spiritual ideal seen in the figures of the soldier and the martyr, and on Hopkins's ideas of death, judgement, heaven and hell. Offering fresh interpretations of the major poems, this volume reveals a more diverse and exploratory poet than has been recognised.

    • The first study to examine the range of religious experience imagined in Hopkins' writing
    • Reveals a more diverse and exploratory poet than has been recognised in the past
    • Offers fresh interpretations of major poems, including 'The Wreck of the Deutschland' and 'The Windhover'
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Diverse, generous, flexible, contingent. After reading this book, I believe these words best express both the version of Hopkins it offers and the nature of its author's unique critical approach … Along with his excellent argumentation and thorough grounding in biographical research and religious history, Dubois displays an intimate knowledge of the poems and a fine ear for their idiosyncrasies.' Summer J. Star, Review 19

    'Dubois's study is a rigorous and scholarly investigation which highlights the close dependence of Hopkins's work on elements of contemporary Catholic religious practice.' Joseph Phelan, The Times Literary Supplement

    'Martin Dubois' brilliantly simple project in Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Poetry of Religious Experience is to restore this recognition of the essential variety or 'mixed insight' of Hopkins' thought to our understanding of his theological and spiritual awareness … Dubois demonstrates how these various contexts of religious experience were further variegated by a number of persistent cross-pressures in Hopkins' theological thinking, charting them along a number of axes … [A] compelling account of the varieties of religious experience in Hopkins' verse …' A. J. Nickerson, The Cambridge Quarterly

    'The approach is flexible, skilful, believable, and helpful … Dubois' acute appreciation of the rhythm and music of Hopkins' lines as the patterns of sound shift and create different effects is an additional pleasure in experiencing these poems … It is a pleasure to read a scholarly work that is so in harmony with its subject, not bogged down in theory but adept at offering balanced readings and giving a host of other interpretations an opportunity to be heard.' James Finn Cotter, Hopkins Quarterly

    '[A] fine, detailed, and extremely thoughtful study.' Adrian Grafe, Victorian Poetry

    'Through close readings of poems like 'The Wreck of the Deutschland', 'Spelt from Sybil's Leaves' and 'That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection', and with a keen ear for prosody capable of handling the linguistic daring of Hopkins, Dubois insightfully unpacks the theological narrowness of Hopkins's notion of a final judgement and its contrast with the beauty and dignity of natural and human life that his best-loved poems celebrate.' Sean Sheehan, Dublin Review of Books

    'Although his aim is to illuminate complexity, Dubois argues his claims with admirable clarity. … [Dubois] invites Hopkins scholars to understand the man's work more inclusively and with a more attentive eye to the 'spiritual as well as … linguistic importance' of his poetic choices. It is a compelling invitation.' Sarah Weaver, Victoriographies

    'Throughout the book, the fluency and depth of Dubois's readings impress, steeped as they are in painstaking research and close readings of lapidary detail. The precision and particularity of Dubois's attention echo those of the poems themselves and fittingly unveil the 'piedness' of Hopkins's poetic vision. … [Dubois] demonstrates most profoundly the density and intricacy inherent in Hopkins's religious works.' Amanda Paxton, Modern Language Review

    '… a clear-sighted and necessary study … It brings forward and gives due consideration to unjustly neglected and occasionally maligned texts, as well as mobilizes insightful new readings of the canonical poetry … This poised and unconstraining study of Hopkins's religious experience, of 'the miscellaneousness of his lived experience,' offers a strong fillip for Hopkins studies, a standard and stimulus for further scholarship.' Daniel Brown, Victorian Studies

    '… deeply scholarly and at the same time absorbingly readable …' Jean Ward, The Heythrop Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107180451
    • length: 238 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Forms of Devotion:
    1. Bibles
    2. Prayer
    Part II. Models of Faith:
    3. The soldier
    4. The martyr
    Part III. Last Things:
    5. Death and judgement
    6. Heaven and hell.

  • Author

    Martin Dubois, Durham University
    Martin Dubois is a Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

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