Victorian Literature Gerard Manley Hopkins
by
Alice Jenkins
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199799558-0034

Introduction

Gerard Manley Hopkins (b. 1844–d. 1889), or Gerard M. Hopkins, as he usually signed himself, was born in Stratford, London, the eldest son of an affectionate and artistic middle-class family. He began writing poetry while attending Highgate School, and he was also interested in music and drawing (two of his brothers went on to become professional artists). From 1863 to 1867, Hopkins studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was taught by some of the most influential Victorian scholars, including Benjamin Jowett and Walter Pater. During this time, Hopkins met Robert Bridges (b. 1844–d. 1930), who was to become a lifelong friend and later the editor of Hopkins’s poetry; he also met and was deeply attracted to Bridges’s relative, Digby Mackworth Dolben. As an undergraduate, Hopkins became strongly influenced by the High Church, Tractarian beliefs and practices still in evidence in the university following the Oxford Movement of the 1830s. Hopkins’s religious life became increasingly ritualist, and in 1866 he converted to Roman Catholicism, causing a severe breach with his Church of England family. After graduating from Oxford he decided to become a priest and entered the Jesuit novitiate in London. At this point he gave up writing poetry, fearing that it would distract him from his work as a priest. It was not until 1874, while he was undergoing part of his Jesuit training at St. Beuno’s in North Wales, that newspaper reports of the wreck of a ship whose passengers included five nuns fleeing persecution in Germany prompted Hopkins to resume writing poetry. “The Wreck of the Deutschland” is perhaps his masterpiece. Most of his fairly small poetic oeuvre (about 179 poems, many unfinished or fragmentary, and many short) dates from this period onward. Hopkins was not well suited to life as a parish priest, and after several fairly unsuccessful placements, the Jesuit order sent him in 1884 to teach at the new University College Dublin as professor of Greek and Latin literature. Continuing to write poetry, often confessional and highly formally experimental, Hopkins worked in Ireland until he died in 1889, aged forty-four, of typhus. Partly because of his innovative poetic technique, and partly because of his own anxieties, his poetry was almost entirely unpublished in his lifetime; copies circulated only among a few of his correspondents. In 1918, however, Robert Bridges published the first edition of Hopkins’s poems; though it took a decade for the first run of 750 copies to sell out, the second edition, which appeared in 1930, was almost immediately successful with a new generation of readers and critics. Since then, Hopkins’s work has become a distinct and crucial part of the canon of Victorian literature and has made a major contribution to 20th-century poetics.

General Overviews

The following are insightful and informative overviews by major Hopkins scholars. Storey 1992 and Brown 2004 are excellent introductory volumes; Mackenzie 1981 and Mackenzie 2008 especially are valuable as a resource to refer to during study of the primary texts or other secondary sources. Bump 1985 and Fearns 1987 are concise, authoritative introductory articles.

  • Brown, Daniel. Gerard Manley Hopkins. Writers and Their Work. Tavistock, UK: Northcote House, 2004.

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    Brown’s lively, readable short introduction to Hopkins is organized thematically. Very lightly referenced, it is nonetheless based on copious research, which Brown deploys in a denser scholarly mode in his earlier work.

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    • Bump, Jerome. “Gerard Manley Hopkins.” In Victorian Poets after 1850. Edited by William E. Fredeman and Ira B. Nadel, 82–105. Dictionary of Literary Biography 35. Farmington Hills, UK: Gale, 1985.

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      A very informative biographical and critical overview of Hopkins as a poet. Includes a brief list of further reading.

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      • Fearns, John. “Gerard Manley Hopkins.” In Victorian Prose Writers after 1867. Edited by William B. Thesing, 130–138. Dictionary of Literary Biography 57. Farmington Hills, UK: Gale, 1987.

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        Informative overview of Hopkins as a critic and prose writer. Includes a brief list of further reading.

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        • Mackenzie, Norman H. A Reader’s Guide to Gerard Manley Hopkins. London: Thames & Hudson, 1981.

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          Substantial and highly authoritative study written by one of the great Hopkins editors. Revised in 2008 (see Mackenzie 2008).

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          • Mackenzie, Norman H. A Reader’s Guide to Gerard Manley Hopkins. 2d ed. Revised by Catherine Phillips. Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2008.

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            Mackenzie 1981, revised and updated by another great Hopkins scholar and editor, Catherine Phillips.

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            • Storey, Graham. A Preface to Hopkins. 2d ed. London: Longman, 1992.

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              A lucid introductory survey of Hopkins’s life and poetry.

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              Bibliographies

              Works in this section give useful snapshots of Hopkins criticism in the early 20th century (Cohen 1969, Storey 1969) and late 20th century (Bump 1993). Dunne 1976 is the standard printed bibliography, though obviously for material published in the last thirty-five years, online bibliographies such as the MLA or Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL) will be essential. Baker 2010 and Fennell 2010 are more recent issues of annual roundups of scholarship in Victorian poetry and other literature; they contain brief but helpful descriptions of the content of and approaches to the works in question.

              • Baker, William, Anna Barton, Jane Wright, Alexis Easley, and Davis Finkelstein. “The Nineteenth Century: The Victorian Period.” The Year’s Work in English Studies 89 (2010): 679–789.

                DOI: 10.1093/ywes/maq004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                An annual survey of publications on Victorian literature.

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                • Bump, Jerome. “The Hopkins Centenary: The Current State of Criticism.” In Gerard Manley Hopkins and Critical Discourse. Edited by Eugene Hollahan, 7–40. New York: AMS Press, 1993.

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                  A very useful discursive account of trends in late-20th-century Hopkins studies.

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                  • Cohen, Edward H. Works and Criticism of Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1969.

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                    A list of criticism up to 1967, including many reviews in newspapers and magazines.

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                    • Dunne, Tom. Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Oxford: Clarendon, 1976.

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                      Extremely comprehensive listing of primary and critical sources, annotated with brief comments on content. More useful for most purposes than Cohen 1969.

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                      • Fennell, Frank. “Guide to the Year’s Work: Gerard Manley Hopkins.” Victorian Poetry 48 (2010): 393–401.

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                        An annual survey of the previous twelve months’ publications on Hopkins.

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                        • Storey, Graham. “Gerard Manley Hopkins.” In New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature. Vol. 3, 1800–1900. Edited by George Watson, 581–593. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

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                          Lists scores of items pertaining to Hopkins scholarship, as well as primary sources.

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                          Biographies

                          Martin 1991 was the first substantial biography to explore Hopkins’s sexual imagination, but White 1992 has become the standard scholarly biography. White 1998 and White 2002 each provide good information on two of Hopkins’s most important and fruitful periods of poetic composition. White’s Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry on Hopkins (White 2009) is by far the best concise online biography. Several popular biographies of Hopkins have been published: Mariani 2008 is based on the author’s extensive research as a Hopkins scholar.

                          • Mariani, Paul. Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life. New York: Viking, 2008.

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                            Written in the present tense and in a sometimes lyrical style, this book has much less to say about sexuality than, for example, Martin 1991, but it gives a lively and sympathetic picture of Hopkins.

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                            • Martin, Robert Bernard. Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Very Private Life. London: HarperCollins, 1991.

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                              Martin’s biography has been influential in its strong emphasis on Hopkins’s sexual attraction to men and particularly on the importance of his relationship with Digby Mackworth Dolben.

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                              • White, Norman. Hopkins: A Literary Biography. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992.

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                                Gives useful detailed information on Hopkins’s daily activities, set in context by explanations of the various locations, institutions, and personal circles in which he lived and worked.

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                                • White, Norman. Hopkins in Wales. Bridgend, UK: Seren, 1998.

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                                  A comparatively short study focusing on the three highly productive and emotional years Hopkins spent at St. Beuno’s, a training college for priests in North Wales, during which time “The Wreck of the Deutschland” and many of his sonnets about the natural world were composed.

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                                  • White, Norman. Hopkins in Ireland. Dublin, Ireland: University College Dublin Press, 2002.

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                                    A detailed study of Hopkins’s five years as professor of classics at University College Dublin. Densely researched and providing a great deal of contextual information about Hopkins’s life in Dublin, the book reads the poems he wrote there as strongly autobiographical documents of depression, breakdown, and alienation.

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                                    • White, Norman. “Gerard Manley Hopkins.” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Edited by Lawrence Goldman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                      Extremely authoritative, and invaluable as an introduction for new readers of Hopkins and as a quick reference for those already familiar with his life.

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                                      Critical Anthologies

                                      Hopkins criticism has gone through some major alterations, especially as New Critical and formalist approaches gave way in the 1980s to readings increasingly interested in gender and sexuality. Early criticism is well represented in Bottrall 1975 and Roberts 1987, while Jenkins 2006 includes extracts from influential work in feminist and queer studies.

                                      • Bottrall, Margaret, ed. Gerard Manley Hopkins, Poems: A Casebook. London: Macmillan, 1975.

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                                        The familiar Casebook series format, presenting excerpts of a good selection from the first fifty years or so of Hopkins criticism.

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                                        • Jenkins, Alice. The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Sourcebook. London: Routledge, 2006.

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                                          Includes annotated extracts from Hopkins criticism, ranging from letters to his contemporaries to studies dating from the 1990s, as well as annotated texts of all the major poems.

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                                          • Roberts, Gerard, ed. Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987.

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                                            Includes a helpful introduction surveying the history of Hopkins criticism, discussing it in detail to 1940 and in outline from 1940 to the mid-1980s. Includes selections from Hopkins’s and his friends’ letters about his own poetry and theirs; later material by critics is structured around the appearance of the first two editions of the Poems, as well as the first two volumes of letters (see Hopkins 1935a and Hopkins 1935b, cited under Letters).

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                                            Reference Resources

                                            A selection of electronically available primary, secondary, and contextual materials. For copyright reasons, online sources such as Project Gutenberg and the Dundee Concordance stick to the 1918 edition of Hopkins’s Poems; this is sufficient for some purposes, but texts of the poems from these sources should be compared with a more up-to-date edition. And of course many poems included in recent editions do not appear at all in the 1918 edition. The Catholic Encyclopedia is a valuable source of theological and historical background material. The Gerard Manley Hopkins Society website is widely consulted and contains material from authoritative scholars, generally presented in accessible style; the Hopkins Quarterly does not provide content but does give bibliographical information that can be followed up by consulting the journal in printed form.

                                            Primary Works

                                            As of 2010, a new, complete edition of Hopkins’s writings is being prepared for publication by Oxford University Press, under the general editorship of Lesley Higgins and Michael F. Suarez. The edition will be made up of eight volumes, of which only Volume 4, Oxford Essays and Notes, has yet been published (see Hopkins 2006, cited under Prose Writings). As the other volumes appear, they will become the standard scholarly editions of the relevant primary texts, though the editions listed below will remain useful for reference and comparison.

                                            Poems

                                            The first collection of Hopkins’s poetry appeared almost thirty years after his death, as a short volume edited by his friend Robert Bridges (Hopkins 1918). Hopkins 1990 is the definitive edition to date, but Hopkins 1953 and Hopkins 2002 are better for the reader new to Hopkins: in addition to the poetry, they both include selections of key prose works. Hopkins 1990 is the best scholarly edition so far, but it is not the best place for new Hopkins readers to start: Hopkins 2002 and Hopkins 1953 are more approachable. Hopkins has a particularly strong following outside academia. There are dozens of popular spiritual books drawing heavily on his poetry, and numerous selections of the poems have been published by religious presses. He is also widely anthologized: a few of his poems (not always the ones that most interest professional critics) have frequently appeared in collections for general readers. Yeats 1936 and Heaney and Hughes 1982 are included here as interesting samples of the different ways in which anthologies have represented Hopkins during the 20th century.

                                            • Heaney, Seamus, and Ted Hughes, eds. The Rattle Bag: An Anthology of Poetry. London: Faber & Faber, 1982.

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                                              Heaney and Hughes select twelve Hopkins poems. Their decision to present all the poems in this collection in alphabetical order rather than chronologically or thematically puts Hopkins’s poems into intriguing and unfamiliar contexts, each poem “taking its chances in a big, voluble world” (p. 19).

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                                              • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins: Now First Published. Edited by Robert Bridges. London: Milford, 1918.

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                                                The earliest published collection of Hopkins’s poetry. Bridges’s edition was not complete and excised the metrical marks with which Hopkins tried to instruct readers on how to recite many of his poems.

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                                                • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Poems and Prose. Edited by W. H. Gardner. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1953.

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                                                  Frequently reprinted, this selection relies on the excellent editorial work done by Gardner and Mackenzie for the fourth edition of the Poems. Included are fifty-three of the major poems, twelve fragmentary poems, and over a hundred pages of extracts from the letters and prose writings. Includes an introductory account of Hopkins’s biography and some aspects of his prosody.

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                                                  • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. The Early Poetic Manuscripts and Note-books of Gerard Manley Hopkins in Facsimile. Edited by Norman H. Mackenzie. New York: Garland, 1989.

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                                                    Presents images of Hopkins’s poems as he himself wrote them out. Includes poems up to, but not including, “The Wreck of the Deutschland”: see Mackenzie 1991 for later poems. Included the first publication of records Hopkins made of his sins, including masturbation and sexual fantasizing, subject matter that has been much discussed in more recent biography and criticism.

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                                                    • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. The Poetical Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Edited by Norman H. Mackenzie. Oxford: Clarendon, 1990.

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                                                      A large scholarly edition with comprehensive apparatus, including extensive commentaries and annotations. Rather than dividing the poems into finished and unfinished as earlier editions often did, this volume presents them all in order of their date of composition; this allows the reader to more effectively trace Hopkins’s developing poetic practice.

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                                                      • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. The Later Poetic Manuscripts of Gerard Manley Hopkins in Facsimile. Edited by Norman H. Mackenzie. New York: Garland, 1991.

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                                                        Continues the project of Hopkins 1989, from “The Wreck of the Deutschland” onward.

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                                                        • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works. Edited by Catherine Phillips. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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                                                          Originally published in 1986 in the Oxford Authors series as Gerard Manley Hopkins. Includes all the poems and substantial selections from Hopkins’s journals, letters, and spiritual writings, as well as a helpful biographical introduction and notes.

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                                                          • Yeats, W. B., ed. The Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1892–1935. Oxford: Clarendon, 1936.

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                                                            Yeats’s introduction (pp. xxix–xl) to this highly influential collection includes his famously dubious comments on Hopkins: including “I read Gerard Hopkins with great difficulty. . . . I suspect a bias born when I began to think” (p. xxxix). Pages 17–22 contain his selection of seven Hopkins poems.

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                                                            Letters

                                                            Hopkins’s letters give a good sense of his intellectual interests and sense of humor, and they also contain most of his critical comments on his own and other writers’ work. Hopkins 1935a, Hopkins 1935b, and Hopkins 1956 are at present the standard collections of Hopkins’s correspondence. The publication of the Oxford University Press edition of the complete works of Hopkins (forthcoming as of 2010), however, will replace them with fuller collections, supported with much better critical apparatus.

                                                            • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges. Edited by Claude Colleer Abbott. London: Oxford University Press, 1935a.

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                                                              Hopkins’s letters to his lifelong friend and fellow poet Robert Bridges include many comments on his own and others’ poetry and are a key biographical and critical source.

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                                                              • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. The Correspondence of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Richard Watson Dixon. Edited by Claude Colleer Abbott. London: Oxford University Press, 1935b.

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                                                                Hopkins’s correspondence with Dixon, a poet and Hopkins’s former schoolteacher, lasted more than ten years until Hopkins’s death in 1889. Like his letters to Bridges, Hopkins’s letters to Dixon include some important discussions of his own poems. This edition presents both Hopkins’s and Dixon’s letters and also includes three letters on sunsets that Hopkins wrote to the new scientific journal Nature during the early 1880s.

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                                                                • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Further Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Including His Correspondence with Coventry Patmore. 2d ed. Edited by Claude Colleer Abbott. London: Oxford University Press, 1956.

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                                                                  Includes some of Hopkins’s correspondence with his parents and siblings as well as with the poet Coventry Patmore, who like Hopkins was a convert to Roman Catholicism.

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                                                                  Prose Writings

                                                                  Hopkins 1959a and Hopkins 1959b are at present crucial primary sources for Hopkins biographers and critics. Hopkins 2006, for example, supersedes the essays in Hopkins 1959b. Hopkins 1980 is an accessible selection of prose writings.

                                                                  • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. The Sermons and Devotional Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Edited by Christopher Devlin. London: Oxford University Press, 1959a.

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                                                                    Among the writings collected in this volume, perhaps the ones that have been most important to Hopkins criticism are notes he made while on retreat in 1880, which include autobiographical and spiritual meditations on selfhood and the religious life.

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                                                                    • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. The Journals and Papers of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Edited by Humphry House, completed by Graham Storey. London: Oxford University Press, 1959b.

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                                                                      Includes Hopkins’s sporadic diaries and seven of the essays Hopkins wrote as an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford; these have been widely used by critics as sources on Hopkins’s aesthetics. This volume replaced House’s 1937 The Notebooks and Papers of Gerard Manley Hopkins.

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                                                                      • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selected Prose. Edited by Gerald Roberts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

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                                                                        Extensive selections from Hopkins’s letters, as well as sparser extracts from his diaries and journals, sermons, retreat notes, and a letter to the scientific magazine Nature, all arranged chronologically and with brief explanatory notes.

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                                                                        • Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Oxford Essays and Notes, 1863–1868. Vol. 4 of The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Edited by Lesley Higgins. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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                                                                          Higgins’s volume adds to the early prose of Hopkins’s canon, printing a further thirty-eight undergraduate essays, as well as notebooks and other early prose writings.

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                                                                          Visual Material

                                                                          Phillips 2007 documents Hopkins’s lifelong interest in visual art, which, as a dimension of his fascination with minute observations of the natural world, complemented his poetry and prose writings. Thornton 1975 includes a good selection of Hopkins’s many accomplished sketches and drawings.

                                                                          • Phillips, Catherine. Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Victorian Visual World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                            Phillips gives a wealth of detail about Hopkins’s artistic interests, productions, opinions, and friends.

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                                                                            • Thornton, R. K. R., ed. All My Eyes See: The Visual World of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Sunderland, UK: Ceolfrith, 1975.

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                                                                              As well as reproducing some of Hopkins’s drawings, this volume includes critical essays about them and about Hopkins’s writing on art criticism.

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                                                                              Early Criticism

                                                                              Bottrall 1975 and Roberts 1987 (cited under Critical Anthologies) provide extremely useful selections of early Hopkins criticism. The following are some of the most influential early engagements major critics had with Hopkins, given in their original and complete contexts. Several of these early responses focus on the rewarding difficulties of reading Hopkins: Richards 1926 is chiefly concerned with exploring the nature of the poems’ “obscurity,” which he sees as a positive good; Empson 1930 relishes unpacking the condensed meanings of phrases and lines in “Spring and Fall” and “The Windhover.” The students’ responses quoted in Richards 1929 give interesting snapshots of how Hopkins appeared to readers soon after first publication. Leavis 1932 is vividly aware of the critical work of Richards and Empson; like them, Leavis approaches the poems via the dense overlaying meanings of phrases, valuing this denseness for its energetic linguistic imagination. Bridges 1918, though much less excited by or responsive to the poetry than Richards, Empson, and Leavis, is included because of its importance as the first critical response to Hopkins.

                                                                              • Bridges, Robert. “Editor’s Preface to Notes.” In Poems. Edited by Robert Bridges, 94–101. London: Milford, 1918.

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                                                                                Bridges often found Hopkins’s poems difficult, obscure, and even distasteful. His 1918 edition of the poems included a substantial note intended to explain some of their “oddity.” Later scholars have generally found Bridges’s note overly apologetic, unperceptive, and unsympathetic to Hopkins’s innovativeness. But it remains an important document in the reception of the poetry.

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                                                                                • Empson, William. Seven Types of Ambiguity. London: Chatto & Windus, 1930.

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                                                                                  Chapter 4 includes an analysis of “Spring and Fall,” and the few pages exploring cruces in “The Windhover” in chapter 7 are a classic master class in close reading.

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                                                                                  • Gardner, W. H. Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889): A Study of Poetic Idiosyncrasy in Relation to Poetic Tradition. 2d ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1966.

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                                                                                    This magisterial two-volume study of Hopkins was an important landmark in Hopkins criticism, connecting Hopkins’s work back to canonical English poetry, rather than seeing it as isolated by its innovativeness.

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                                                                                    • Leavis, F. R. New Bearings in English Poetry: A Study of the Contemporary Situation. London: Chatto & Windus, 1932.

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                                                                                      Leavis championed Hopkins’s poetry as an extraordinary anticipation of modernist aesthetics and experimentation. Leavis’s argument for reading Hopkins as anomalous among Victorian poets—a figure disconnected from his own times—was very influential but has now been almost wholly overtaken by historicist approaches such as those outlined in Sulloway 1972 (cited under Hopkins and History).

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                                                                                      • Richards, I. A. “Gerard Hopkins.” The Dial 81.3 (1926): 195–203.

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                                                                                        Among the first critical accounts of Hopkins, this essay and Empson 1930 give an indication of the attraction of his short, intense, distinctive, and highly wrought poems to readers accustomed to modernist formal experimentation.

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                                                                                        • Richards, I. A. Practical Criticism: A Study of Literary Judgment. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1929.

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                                                                                          A version of “Spring and Fall” was one of the thirteen texts that Richards used for his famous experiments in which Cambridge undergraduates were asked to comment on poems presented without their authors’ names. Richards prints a number of his students’ responses to the poem, together with his own comments on their difficulties with it. Some of the comments are fairly scathing.

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                                                                                          Hopkins and History

                                                                                          Early Hopkins criticism tended to see him as an exception to most Victorian literary and social history. Johnson 1968 argues that fifty years on from the first publication of the Poems, the time had come to begin subjecting Hopkins’s work to serious, detailed, and small-scale criticism that located him within the context of his own period. Bergonzi 1975 influentially argued that Hopkins’s conversion to Roman Catholicism set him apart from mainstream Victorian English people and culture; but Sulloway 1972 puts forth the opposite case, seeing Hopkins as strongly and deeply connected with Victorian culture. Marucci 1994 argues for the importance of the Middle Ages as a context for Hopkins’s thought.

                                                                                          • Bergonzi, Bernard. Hopkins the Englishman. Enfield, UK: Hopkins Society, 1975.

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                                                                                            This lecture by a distinguished critic is much cited in Hopkins studies. In recent years, scholars have generally disagreed with Bergonzi’s thesis about the “outsider” status conferred on Hopkins by his conversion to Roman Catholicism.

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                                                                                            • Johnson, Wendell Stacy. Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Poet as Victorian. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1968.

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                                                                                              Locates Hopkins in the context of two preoccupations Johnson sees as characteristically Victorian: self-consciousness and an ambivalence toward nature. Gives chapter-long readings of “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” “The Windhover,” “Spring and Fall,” and “That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire.”

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                                                                                              • Marucci, Franco. The Fine Delight That Fathers Thought: Rhetoric and Medievalism in Gerard Manley Hopkins. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                The second part of Marucci’s study argues that Hopkins’s primary intellectual context is not Victorian but medieval. Occasionally difficult in style, Marucci’s work has not fundamentally shifted critical views of Hopkins in history, but it still offers useful insights.

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                                                                                                • Mizener, Arthur. “Victorian Hopkins.” In Gerard Manley Hopkins. By Arthur Mizener, 95–112. The Kenyon Critics. London: Dobson, 1949.

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                                                                                                  Argues that the publication of his letters and diaries (including Hopkins 1935a and Hopkins 1935b, cited under Letters) throws new light on Hopkins so that it is no longer possible to claim him as an exception to Victorian interests and habits of mind. It is the traits that were earlier interpreted as evidence of his exceptionalism (including his eccentricity and individualism) that mark him clearly as a Victorian.

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                                                                                                  • Sulloway, Alison. Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Victorian Temper. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.

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                                                                                                    Useful study of Hopkins in relation to aspects of his own times, including religious, class, and gender politics. Serves as a corrective to the early- and mid-20th-century tendency to see Hopkins as a modernist avant la lettre, rather than a man and a writer of the 19th century.

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                                                                                                    Language

                                                                                                    Like many of his contemporaries, Hopkins was deeply interested in the history of language, how words change over time, and how they belong to particular places and groups of people. Milroy 1977 has become a key source for many later Hopkins critics because of the wealth of information it provides on Hopkins’s linguistic practice. With the exception of Miller 1995, which is focused on modern theory more than 19th-century theory, the works cited here generally take a historicist approach to this aspect of Hopkins’s thought. Armstrong 1982, Armstrong 1993, and Plotkin 1989 read Hopkins’s poetic and lexical innovations in the context of Victorian study of language. Griffiths 1989 examines Hopkins’s relationship with English in the context of his conversion and his move to Ireland.

                                                                                                    • Armstrong, Isobel. Language as Living Form in Nineteenth-Century Poetry. Brighton, UK: Harvester, 1982.

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                                                                                                      Using a more accessible style than Armstrong 1993, this book’s chapter on Hopkins gives a helpful account of his prosody and philosophy of language.

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                                                                                                      • Armstrong, Isobel. “Hopkins: Agonistic Reactionary; The Grotesque as Conservative Form.” In Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics, and Politics. By Isobel Armstrong, 420–439. London: Routledge, 1993.

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                                                                                                        A densely packed essay ranging widely over numerous interpretative strategies for understanding Hopkins’s innovations and theoretical interests in language.

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                                                                                                        • Griffiths, Eric. The Printed Voice of Victorian Poetry. Oxford: Clarendon, 1989.

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                                                                                                          Includes a chapter giving imaginative and detailed close readings of numerous Hopkins poems. Argues that Hopkins’s conversion to Roman Catholicism and his final move to Ireland accentuated and problematized his sense of Englishness and his relationship with the English language.

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                                                                                                          • Miller, J. Hillis. “Naming, Doing, Placing: Hopkins.” In Topographies. By J. Hillis Miller, 150–168. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                            A short but wide-ranging and accessible study of performative language in Hopkins, including a good introduction to speech-act theory for readers unfamiliar with it.

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                                                                                                            • Milroy, James. The Language of Gerard Manley Hopkins. London: Deutsch, 1977.

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                                                                                                              A readable and much-cited study that includes the useful section “Commentary on Words Used in Rare, Special, or Non-standard Senses in Hopkins’s Poetry.”

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                                                                                                              • Plotkin, Cary H. The Tenth Muse: Victorian Philology and the Genesis of the Poetic Language of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                Plotkin gives a helpful history of Victorian debates about language and traces in detail Hopkins’s engagement with the voluminous literature on philology.

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                                                                                                                Rhythm and Meter

                                                                                                                These works illustrate the richness and riskiness of Hopkins’s metrical and sonic inventiveness. Their readings of Hopkins are intriguingly affected by the differing clusters of Victorian poets (Campbell 1999 and Rudy 2009) or contemporary poets (Winters 1959 and Vendler 1995) among whom they place him, as well as the historical contexts in which they read his work. Yvor Winters’s dissatisfaction with the Hopkins’s metrical practice and theory made Winters 1959 an unusual skeptical work in mid-20th-century Hopkins criticism. In the 21st century, meter is enjoying a resurgence of critical interest, and a number of studies listed here present new methods and contexts for metrical investigation of Hopkins’s poetry. Wilson 2000 and Rudy 2009 illustrate the interdisciplinary potential of metrical studies. Wimsatt 2006 is a masterly and yet accessible exploration of Hopkins’s sonic effects, meter included, which insists on the emotional content of his technical practice. King 2007 shares this emphasis on the fusing of feeling and technique. Prins 2000 is an excellent introduction to Victorian debates about poetic meter.

                                                                                                                • Campbell, Matthew. Rhythm and Will in Victorian Poetry. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                  This acute study of the emotional and imaginative work done by rhythm focuses on Hopkins, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Thomas Hardy. The chapter “Incarnating Elegy in The Wreck of the Deutschland” (pp. 187–209) gives a stimulating close reading of this ode’s rhythmic and other sonic patterns.

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                                                                                                                  • King, Joshua. “Hopkins’s Affective Rhythm: Grace and Intention in Tension.” Victorian Poetry 45 (2007): 209–237.

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                                                                                                                    A readable article calling for a shift in prosodic studies of Hopkins toward a more rounded approach that explores the emotional and cognitive possibilities of meter. Argues that for Hopkins sprung rhythm was “a unique stimulation to thought, a measure for anticipating a reader’s affective experience, and a form for aspiration and self-confrontation” (p. 233).

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                                                                                                                    • Martin, Meredith. “Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Stigma of Meter.” Victorian Studies 50 (2008): 243–253.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2979/VIC.2008.50.2.243Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      A brief and ingenious essay that explores Hopkins’s habit of visually marking the stresses in his poetry, linking it with his fascination with patterns in the natural world and marks on the bodies of saints.

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                                                                                                                      • Prins, Yopie. “Victorian Meters.” In The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Poetry. Edited by Joseph Bristow, 89–113. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                        Does not discuss Hopkins specifically but gives an extremely helpful overview of Victorian metrical theory and practice. Also includes a useful discussion of recent metrical criticism.

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                                                                                                                        • Rudy, Jason R. “Patmore, Hopkins, and the Uncertain Body of Victorian Poetry.” In Electric Meters: Victorian Physiological Poetics. By Jason Rudy, 111–136. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                          Rudy’s original study of Victorian anxieties about the relationship between poetic rhythm and the body includes a chapter comparing Patmore’s and Hopkins’s prosodic practice.

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                                                                                                                          • Vendler, Helen. “Gerard Manley Hopkins and Sprung Rhythm.” In The Breaking of Style: Hopkins, Heaney, Graham. By Helen Vendler, 9–40. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                            Clear and beautifully written essay giving sensitive and imaginative readings of several of Hopkins’s sonnets as well as “The Wreck of the Deutschland.”

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                                                                                                                            • Wilson, Christopher R. “Nineteenth-Century Musical Agogics as an Element in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s Prosody.” Comparative Literature 52 (2000): 72–86.

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                                                                                                                              Compares Hopkins’s metrical ideas with his musical knowledge and suggests a reading of his metrical practice as an expression of a Romantic musical aesthetic.

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                                                                                                                              • Wimsatt, James I. Hopkins’s Poetics of Speech Sound: Sprung Rhythm, Lettering, Inscape. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                A short, imaginative, and suggestive study of Hopkins’s rhythmic, metrical, and other sonic effects. Two chapters address sprung rhythm; others are on alliteration, inscape, and meter and the body.

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                                                                                                                                • Winters, Yvor. On Modern Poets. New York: Meridian, 1959.

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                                                                                                                                  Winters’s chapter on Hopkins famously attacks his metrical practice as excessively emotionally emphatic. The chapter includes a lengthy reading of “No worst, there is none” and several of the other sonnets as well as brief, pithy, and on the whole dissatisfied characterizations of numerous other poems.

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                                                                                                                                  Theological Approaches

                                                                                                                                  Pick 1942 was one of the earliest critical books to stress the crucial importance of understanding Hopkins’s theology and vocation in interpreting his poems. Since then, a substantial category of work within Hopkins studies, among which Cotter 1972 and Loomis 1988 are particularly widely cited, has focused on accounts of his education and independent reading in theology, comparisons of his theology with that of other Roman Catholic writers, and treatments of theological themes in his poetry and prose. Weyland 1949 and Ong 1986 are key sources in Jesuit criticism of Hopkins. In their different ways, Miller 2000 and Salmon 2002 give perspectives on Hopkins’s theology from outside Roman Catholic and Christian faith.

                                                                                                                                  • Cotter, James Finn. Inscape: The Christology and Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                    A helpful survey of Hopkins’s theological education and development.

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                                                                                                                                    • Ong, Walter J. Hopkins, the Self, and God. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                      An accessible, respected, and wide-ranging study of Hopkins’s fascination in his poetry and his theology with individuality; includes a particularly informative chapter on Hopkins’s Jesuit training and a lively reading of “The Wreck of the Deutschland” in light of Victorian technology.

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                                                                                                                                      • Loomis, Jeffrey. Dayspring in Darkness: Sacrament in Hopkins. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                        Many critics emphasize the influence of the medieval theologian John Duns Scotus on Hopkins. Loomis argues that reading Augustine and Origen helped Hopkins to develop a broader understanding of sacrament in which daily events and natural scenes could convey divine grace.

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                                                                                                                                        • Miller, J. Hillis. The Disappearance of God: Five Nineteenth-Century Writers. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                          Miller is one of the most prominent and admired poststructuralist critics. In this study, originally published in 1963, he argues that toward the end of his life Hopkins lost his sense of God’s presence. Also includes highly influential discussions of inscape and instress.

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                                                                                                                                          • Pick, John. Gerard Manley Hopkins: Priest and Poet. 2d ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1942.

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                                                                                                                                            An accessible account of how the theology of St. Ignatius Loyola affected Hopkins’s thought and work.

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                                                                                                                                            • Salmon, Rachel. “Reading Across Hermeneutic Traditions: A Spelling of Hopkins’s Leaves.” Religion & Literature 34 (2002): 21–49.

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                                                                                                                                              Like Salmon’s other work on Hopkins, this is a fascinating exploration of the experience of a reader from an Orthodox Jewish tradition, arguing that a reading from outside Hopkins’s own religious background can produce new insights.

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                                                                                                                                              • Weyland, Norman, ed. Immortal Diamond: Studies in Gerard Manley Hopkins. London: Sheed & Ward, 1949.

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                                                                                                                                                A collection of essays by Jesuit priests, aiming to restore the primacy of Hopkins’s priestly vocation and practice to interpretation of the poems.

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                                                                                                                                                Gender and Sexuality

                                                                                                                                                Gilbert and Gubar 1979 issued a profound feminist challenge to Hopkins criticism. Since then, one strand of Hopkins criticism, notably including Sulloway 1989 and Morgan 1992, has taken up the question of Hopkins’s representations of women, above all the “tall nun” in “The Wreck of the Deutschland.” Another strand (the two are often interwoven) has investigated Hopkins’s experience and treatment of masculinity; Alderson 1998 is particularly influential here. One of the earliest critical investigations of sexuality, including homosexuality, in Hopkins’s poetry was Johnson 1976. A few years later, Lynch 1979 offered a substantial case for “reclaiming” Hopkins as a gay writer. Since then, the publication of previously withheld parts of Hopkins’s diaries has enabled new biographical work that highlights his sexual attraction toward men. Hopkins criticism has benefited from the increasing theoretical sophistication of queer studies, so that Lynch’s identification of Hopkins as gay has been largely overtaken by more nuanced readings of queerness, otherness, and homosociality in his life and work, as Saville 2000 and Roden 2002 illustrate.

                                                                                                                                                • Alderson, David. Mansex Fine: Religion, Manliness, and Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century British Culture. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                  A readable study of the relationship between Victorian Protestantism, Catholicism, and masculinity, with two chapters on Hopkins.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Johnson, Wendell Stacy. “Sexuality and Inscape.” Hopkins Quarterly 3 (1976): 59–66.

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                                                                                                                                                    Johnson cautiously makes a case for considering sexual themes in Hopkins’s poems; the essay is useful now chiefly as an early attempt to introduce a critical topic that has since been investigated in much greater detail by others.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Lynch, Michael. “Recovering Hopkins, Recovering Ourselves.” Hopkins Quarterly 6 (1979): 107–117.

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                                                                                                                                                      More widely cited than Johnson 1976 and a more confident and radical essay. Identifies Hopkins as a gay poet.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Morgan, Thaïs E. “Violence, Creativity, and the Feminine: Poetics and Gender Politics in Swinburne and Hopkins.” In Gender and Discourse in Victorian Literature and Art. Edited by Anthony H. Harrison and Beverly Taylor. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                        Reads “The Wreck of the Deutschland” as a strongly eroticized, misogynistic, and masochistic text; the essay has been somewhat controversial, as well as widely discussed, in Hopkins studies.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Imagination. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                          Using material from Hopkins’s letters and poems, Gilbert and Gubar argue that his comments on the act of writing poetry exemplified the misogynist Victorian belief that poetry is an inherently masculine gift from which women are essentially excluded.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Roden, Frederick R. “Eremitic Homoerotics: The Religious Culture of Gerard Manley Hopkins.” In Same-Sex Desire in Victorian Religious Culture. By Frederick Roden, 82–122. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                            An accessible account of Hopkins’s queer sexuality. Roden argues that Hopkins illustrates the important role of theology in shaping the emerging categories of late-19th-century homosexuality.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Saville, Julia F. A Queer Chivalry: The Homoerotic Asceticism of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                              Saville’s readable study argues that homoeroticism and religious devotion are intertwined in Hopkins’s poetry, and explores sprung rhythm as one of Hopkins’s tools for negotiating a “queer” (as distinct from homosexual or gay) identity. Provides readings of most of the poetry, organized in chronological order.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Sulloway, Alison. “Gerard Manley Hopkins and ‘Women and Men’ as ‘Partners in the Mystery of Redemption.’” In Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Centenary Celebration. Edited by Jerome Bump, 31–51. Texas Studies in Language and Literature 31. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                A fairly early and clearly written essay discussing misogyny and antifeminism in Hopkins.

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                                                                                                                                                                The Body

                                                                                                                                                                Critical interest in Hopkins’s writing on bodies, his own and other people’s, has grown considerably in recent years, partly in the context of shifts in feminist and queer theory. Bristow 1992 has been important in mapping the overlap between religious, gender, and class categories in Hopkins’s writing about bodies. Moran 2001 explores related territory, reading Hopkins in the context of mid-Victorian Christian models of masculinity. Overholser 1991 and Higgins 1996 are among the critiques that explore bodily pain and suffering in Hopkins’s sexual imagination. By contrast, the exploration of bodily metaphors that Chambers 2008 offers moves away from sexuality, focusing on Hopkins’s responses to Victorian psychology and the relationship of body and mind.

                                                                                                                                                                • Bristow, Joseph. “‘Churlsgrace’: Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Working-Class Male Body.” English Literary History 59 (1992): 693–711.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Bristow, a leading scholar of queer poetics, explores Hopkins’s writing about Christ as embodied in the beautiful physical forms of laboring men.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Chambers, Susan. “Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Kinesthetics of Conviction.” Victorian Studies 51 (2008): 7–35.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2979/VIC.2008.51.1.7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    An original take on embodiment, this article explores Hopkins’s use of syntactic and formal innovation to dramatize the relationship of thought and physical sensation; Chambers provides readings of “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” “God’s Grandeur,” and “My Own Heart Let Me Have More Pity On.”

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Higgins, Lesley. “‘Bone-house’ and ‘Lovescape’: Writing the Body in Hopkins’s Canon.” In Rereading Hopkins: Selected New Essays. Edited by Francis L. Fennell, 11–35. Victoria, BC: English Literary Studies, University of Victoria, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                      A clearly written essay on Hopkins’s writing about embodiment and his own body.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Moran, Maureen F. “‘Lovely Manly Mould’: Hopkins and the Christian Body.” Journal of Victorian Culture 6 (2001): 61–88.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.3366/jvc.2001.6.1.61Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Moran has written several insightful and lucid articles on Hopkins, the body, and sexuality; here she reads Hopkins’s writing about the male body in light of contemporary Protestant discourses of Christian masculinity.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Overholser, Renée V. “‘Looking With Terrible Temptation’: Gerard Manley Hopkins and Beautiful Bodies.” Victorian Literature and Culture 19 (1991): 25–53.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S1060150300003600Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          An exploration of Hopkins’s responses to his sexual interest in bodily pain.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Literature and Science Approaches

                                                                                                                                                                          Nixon 2002 sees Hopkins as given to crossing borders and transgressing limits and hence as one to whom interdisciplinary approaches, including literature and science studies, are particularly appropriate. Studies investigating Hopkins’s scientific interests and reading his work in the context of various Victorian sciences, from evolutionism (Zaniello 1988) to physics (Brown 1997, Nixon 2002), form a particularly lively and productive subfield of Hopkins studies. Beer 1996 has been highly influential beyond Hopkins criticism as providing important methodological ideas for literature and science scholarship.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Beer, Gillian. “Helmholtz, Tyndall, Hopkins: Leaps of the Prepared Imagination.” In Open Fields: Science in Cultural Encounter. By Gillian Beer, 242–272. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                            The first major reading of Hopkins in the context of Victorian physical science. Still highly influential.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Brown, Daniel. Hopkins’s Idealism: Philosophy, Physics, Poetry. Oxford: Clarendon, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                              A rich, meticulously researched study that is sometimes a challenging read. Takes seriously Hopkins’s scientific education and interests and explores his fascination with stress, instress, and forms of energy in terms of contemporary physics and idealist philosophy. Brown’s close readings of the poems are original and vivid.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Nixon, Jude V. “‘Death Blots Black Out’: Thermodynamics and the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins.” Victorian Poetry 40 (2002): 131–156.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1353/vp.2002.0013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Dense but accessible article ranges across a wide selection of Hopkins’s poems, giving readings of images of heat, fire, and energy in light of the emerging Victorian science of thermodynamics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Zaniello, Tom. Hopkins in the Age of Darwin. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Written near the start of the flowering of “literature and science” studies, Zaniello’s book was one of the first to contextualize Hopkins through a discussion of his responses to contemporary science. Later studies have tended to focus more on Hopkins and the physical sciences than the evolutionary or biological sciences.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Green Studies

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hopkins’s passionate interest in landscape and the natural world has been recognized and explored in criticism since the first wave of Hopkins studies in the 1920s and 1930s. But the emergence in the 1990s of a distinctive, though diverse, critical movement embracing ecocriticism, green studies, and “literature and the environment,” has given a new turn to studies of Hopkins’s responses to nature. “Binsey Poplars” is perhaps the Hopkins poem most frequently discussed in ecocritical contexts; Day 2004 and Constantini 2008 illustrate the variety of readings of ecological themes in this poem. Eagleton 1973 and Day 2004 in diverse ways explore some of the overlaps between Hopkins’s religious thought and his responses to the natural world. Bellanca 2007 usefully locates Hopkins in a spectrum of 19th-century observers of nature.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bellanca, Mary Ellen. Daybooks of Discovery: Nature Diaries in Britain, 1770–1870. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Hopkins is one of the five major diarists discussed. Bellanca sees Hopkins’s multisensory engagement with landscape, plants, and animals as an expression of a characteristically Victorian response to nature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Costantini, Mariaconcetta. “‘Strokes of Havoc’: Tree-Felling and the Poetic Tradition of Ecocriticism in Manley Hopkins and Gerard Manley Hopkins.” Victorian Poetry 46 (2008): 487–509.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/vp.0.0037Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Another study of “Binsey Poplars,” this time comparing it with Hopkins’s father’s poem on a similar theme, “The Old Trees.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Day, Brian J. “Hopkins’s Spiritual Ecology in ‘Binsey Poplars.’” Victorian Poetry 42 (2004): 181–193.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/vp.2004.0039Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        Day’s article gives a useful general account of ways in which Hopkins’s poem can be read for ecological purposes, connecting its feeling for nature with the important Hopkinsian idea of “selving.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Eagleton, Terry. “Nature and the Fall in Hopkins: A Reading of ‘God’s Grandeur.’” Essays in Criticism 23 (1973): 68–75.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Eagleton argues that Hopkins shifts from thinking of nature as a manifestation of divine grace to finding it “sick and degenerate.” A short and pungent essay, not in itself ecocritical, but in some ways foreshadowing ecocritical readings.

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