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UAL Research Online

Hopkins and Whitman in Essays in Criticism

Herrington, Eldrid (2005) Hopkins and Whitman in Essays in Criticism. Essays in Criticism, 55 (1). pp. 39-57. ISSN 14716852

Type of Research: Article
Creators: Herrington, Eldrid

In a letter to his friend Robert Bridges, the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote that ‘I have always felt in my heart that Walt Whitman’s mind was more like my own than any other man’s living’; my essay considers what he could have meant by this.

This is the first work to identify and consult the books in which Hopkins read Whitman, together with their annotations. This answered several facts about where Hopkins read Whitman, but questions of the cultural place of sexuality and homosexuality were crucial to the interpretation of Hopkins’s letters about his fellow poet. Most commonly read as ‘confessions’ to homosexuality, his discussions of Whitman reveal not just anxieties about sexuality in the nineteenth century but also about religious prejudice, politics, and Hopkins’s perceived parallels between his and Whitman’s (downtrodden) poetic fates. The likeness of ‘mind’ he identifies I traced not just to specific allusions but to lexic coincidences. I reconstructed the cultural state of Hopkins’s Oxford with Benjamin Jowett, John Addington Symonds and others’ interest in the intersection of art criticism and sexuality centered around the writings of Winckelmann and examined John Henry Newman’s portrayals of anti-Catholicism as a means of setting the complex hinterlands of Hopkins’s statements.

‘Hopkins and Whitman’ is the first chapter of a larger work on the interrelation between nineteenth-century philology and poetic technique, Extreme Language: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Philology, begun at the University of Cambridge with the help of four national grants. My book examines the ways in which new discoveries about language, its genesis, and its structure, influenced poets, specifically amateur philologists such as Hopkins and Whitman.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 1 January 2005
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1093/escrit/cgi03
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2009 13:51
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2014 12:30
Item ID: 1258
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1258

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