BOOK REVIEW: The Grandeur of God and the Life of a Poet, by David E. Anderson

Hopkins-3Father Hopkins said the only true literary critic is Christ.
— John Berryman, “Eleven Addresses to the Lord”

If I had not discovered Hopkins, I would have had to invent him,” poet and biographer Paul Mariani wrote in “Hopkins as Lifeline,” an essay recalling his first encounter as a college student in 1962 with nineteenth-century poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins. It has been a long and fruitful relationship, including a doctoral thesis Mariani revised and published as A COMMENTARY ON THE COMPLETE POEMS OF GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS (Cornell University Press, 1970), more than a dozen scholarly articles, essays, and reviews, and now his full-length biography, GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS: A LIFE (Viking, 2008). It is a fine contribution to Hopkins scholarship, an often illuminating but sometimes uneven look at the Christ-haunted Victorian poet whose work, although never published in his lifetime, came into its own in the second half of the twentieth century, exerted a major influence on such poets as Elizabeth Bishop and John Berryman, and continues to influence young poets and attract the scrutiny of academics.

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