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ELT: Volume 33:4 1990 Whatever its limitations, Paffard's book contributes to the slow rehabilitation of Kipling by inviting readers to reread. Only time will tell whether Kipling can survive the ideological fashions of the twentieth century and find a secure place in the English canon. D. H. Stewart Texas A & M University Gerard Manley Hopkins Maria R. Lichtmann. The Contemplative Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989. ix + 231 pp. $29.50 IN 1982 WHEN SHE BEGAN her dissertation Maria Lichtmann had an insight. By 1989 the insight had her. The result is the book at hand, thoughtful, provocative, sometimes persuasive, but thesisridden throughout. A second seven-year term, this one on the classical model of benign neglect, would doubtless have tempered the work, but such restraint would hardly serve modern academic interests. We must therefore take the bad with the good. The good is that Lichtmann's insight is an illuminating one. It is, in brief, that the key to Hopkins's poetry lies in the concept of parallelism and that Hopkins's use of parallelism insures that his is a poetry of contemplation, not meditation. The bad is that Lichtmann insists that this is not only α valid but the only valid way of approaching Hopkins (and along the way that she is the only discoverer of it, except for some partial glimpses of the truth by critics like Marcella Holloway). If so, this would make almost all previous Hopkins criticism at best irrelevant and at worst counter-productive. Such a view seems to me not so likely to sweep away all previous Hopkins criticism as to create a backlash against Lichtmann's own contribution and thus obscure its merits. That the merits of this study are real deserves stressing, lest Lichtmann's combination of contentiousness and stylistic turgidity become for her a dragon at the gate of parallelism that frightens off all comers. By parallelism Lichtmann means a good deal more than might at first suggest itself to the reader of student compositions so notably lacking in that handbook virtue. She means parallelism understood as a rich, multi-faceted principle that governed the mode of composition of the Bible. This is the parallelism first specifically identified, categorized, and discussed by Bishop Robert Lowth in his 1787 Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews. (Lichtmann has of course improved upon Lowth's careless categories.) Lichtmann does 460 Book Reviews not make entirely clear how much if anything Hopkins knew of Lowth or of his Romantic counterpart Herder, but she sees Hopkins as joining the views of these two in his attitude toward biblical parallelism , and hence subsequently in his own poetic practice. All of which seems plausible, if not airtight. The question is whether it can account for his entire poetics. For Lichtmann parallelism is both instress and inscape, as the following characteristically labored formulation asserts: "As inscape, parallelism ... is an integrative device, encompassing negativity or otherness on the ontological plane; as instress, parallelism is now seen to be a psychological or epistemological tool, enabling the poem to instress itself on the hearer-reader by its surprises." Parallelism is also the key to Hopkins's "Parmenidean-Heraclitean poetics," which means, as best one can distill it, something like the tension in Hopkins 's poetry between the multitudinousness of reality (Heraclitus) and the striving for oneness and unity (Parmenides). Parallelism, then, in Lichtmann's treatment is a fullscale mode of verbal organization and poetic perception. Indeed, so capacious is her concept of parallelism that it is in her view able to account for just about everything Hopkins did in poetry. Of course it cannot really do that, but it can and in Lichtmann's hands does go some distance towards casting light on many characteristic features of Hopkins's poetic practice and even beyond that on many characteristic features of Hopkins's mode of thinking and perceiving. It should be noted in further confirmation of the value of Lichtmann 's insight that she finds a good deal of support for her view in Hopkins's own writings, including some of the unpublished undergraduate manuscripts at Campion Hall, which she uses effectively, though again one has...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 460-462
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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