Authors: Gerard Manley Hopkins

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English poet

Author Works

Poetry:

Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Now First Published, with Notes by Robert Bridges, 1918

Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1930, 1948, 1967

The Poetical Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1990

Nonfiction:

The Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges, 1935, 1955 (C. C. Abbott, editor)

The Correspondence of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Richard Watson Dixon, 1935, 1955 (Abbott, editor)

The Notebooks and Papers of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1937 (Humphry House, editor)

Further Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1938, 1956 (Abbott, editor)

The Journals and Papers of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1959 (House and Graham Storey, editors)

The Sermons and Devotional Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1959 (Christopher Devlin, editor)

Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selected Letters, 1990

Biography

In his lifetime few others than his teacher and confessor, R. W. Dixon, and his friend and correspondent Coventry Patmore knew of the genius Gerard Manley Hopkins. Given the nature of his life, however, it is perhaps astonishing that he or his poems ever became known.{$I[AN]9810000500}{$I[A]Hopkins, Gerard Manley}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Hopkins, Gerard Manley}{$I[tim]1844;Hopkins, Gerard Manley}

Gerard Manley Hopkins

(Library of Congress)

A precocious child, Hopkins was reared and educated in Highgate, where one of the teachers, R. W. Dixon, may first have recognized the talents of the sensitive boy, although the correspondence between them did not begin until nearly twenty years later. Always introverted but an eager reader, Hopkins won the Headmaster’s Poetry Prize in 1860 and later a prize for “A Vision of Mermaids” (1862), which was reprinted in Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins accompanied by a William Blake-like sketch. His interest and ability in music, especially composition, were also manifest early.

From 1863 to 1867 Hopkins attended Oxford University, where he studied under Benjamin Jowett, tutored with Walter Pater, and met Robert Bridges, who later became poet laureate and a collector of Hopkins’s poems. There Hopkins was converted to Catholicism in 1866, at which time he reputedly burned all his poems; most of them must have been reproduced later, if content is any guide. He also studied under the later cardinal John Henry Newman in a Jesuit school in Birmingham.

After his novitiate he taught classics at Stonyhurst, Lancashire Catholic College, and later he was professor of classics at the Royal University of Ireland. He started writing poetry again in 1875 with “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” a lament for the death of five nuns who were going into exile. His voluminous letter-writing also began at this time and continued until his death in Dublin on June 8, 1889, of typhoid.

Later critics have given Hopkins credit for introducing the offbeat “sprung” rhythm into poetry, although there is evidence to show that such innovation began with the Elizabethan and metaphysical poets. Even so, Hopkins possessed the finest ear of any poet of his time for sensitive alliteration, assonance, and dissonance. His concept of poetry as “inscape,” internal landscape, is most revealing and useful; this is a principle that New Criticism has used to support the view that a poem is an entity, capable of arousing within each reader a complete emotional response. In a sense even Dadaism arose from such an idea, a kind of surrealistic, highly personal response. Hopkins’s themes, mystical and exalted, show the man’s great genius and intensity, and his religious leanings indicate that he was ecstatic in the spirit of the great Spanish poets of the Renaissance.

As a theorist Hopkins is often thought of as a poet’s poet, and his explanations sometimes surpass his verse in sheer imaginative power. Like Herman Melville, Hopkins wrote for another generation than his own; like Henry David Thoreau, he marched to the rhythm of a different and distant drum.

BibliographyBergonzi, Bernard. Gerard Manley Hopkins. New York: Macmillan, 1977. This volume, one in the Masters of World Literature series, contains five chapters of biography, followed by a sixth chapter which seeks to give a general account of Hopkins’s poetry as linked to his life. Includes a select bibliography and an index.Bloom, Harold, ed. Gerard Manley Hopkins. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. Includes a number of significant essays on Hopkins, chronology, a bibliography, and index.Brown, Daniel. Hopkins’ Idealism: Philosophy, Physics, Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Offers new readings of some of Hopkins’s best-known poems and is the first full-length study of Hopkins’s largely unpublished Oxford undergraduate essays and notes on philosophy and mechanics.Downes, David Anthony. Hopkins’ Achieved Self. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1996. The first book to explore, in depth, the hermeneutics of Hopkins’s notions of the self and to apply his ideas of “selving” to his poetry. Intended for scholars of Victorian literature and of Hopkins’s work.Gardner, W. H. Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844-1889. 3d ed. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1958. This third edition of the first really major study of Hopkins’s poetry (originally published in 1944) is still one of the best. The first volume deals extensively with Hopkins’s development of the sonnet form, his themes and imagery, and then seeks to place him in relation to modernism. Volume 2 goes through his poems more chronologically, but also deals with development of rhythm and critical theory. Contains appendices, bibliography, and indexes.Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selected Letters. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.Ong, Walter J. Hopkins, the Self, and God. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.Robinson, John. In Extremity: A Study of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1978. Traces the nature of Hopkins’s religious experiences as they receive poetic expression. The philosophy of John Duns Scotus is seen as a vital bridge between experience and expression. Includes notes and an index.Schneider, Elisabeth W. The Dragon in the Gate: Studies in the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968. Still an excellent introduction to Hopkins’s major poetry, dealing specifically with the development of style and rhythm. Includes an index.Sulloway, Alison G. Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Victorian Temper. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972. Places Hopkins firmly in the Victorian context. Two appendices refer to the Tractarian wars. Includes notes, a selected bibliography, and an index.White, Norman. Hopkins: A Literary Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. This massive biography traces the life, career, and religious struggles of the brilliant but profoundly alienated Victorian poet.
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