In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS 357 beasts or the nutritive soul of plants:' Donne says virtually the same thing in the Devotionsupon EmergentOccasions (l8. Meditation), a passage that Targoffquotes without seeming to grasp its full implications: "This immortal souledid not forbid other soules, to be in us before, but when this soule departs, it carries all with it; no more vegetation, no more sense" (ll). This is as much as to say,the intellectual subsumes the lesser "souls";they are not independent entities, but capacities of the one provides the formal unity of a human being. One may protest that these are insignificant matters, but that is precisely the point. Targoff has tried to turn the commonplace motifs of medieval and early modern philosophical and theological conjecture about the physical and spiritual aspects of human nature into an argument that Donne has propounded a radically unorthodox religious vision, but she succeeds only in spreading confusion. Instances could be multiplied indefinitely, but to no purpose. Her procedure is in some ways contrary to Ben Saunders's casual neglect of an historical perspective, but the ultimate effect is much the same. While Saunders simply ignores the actual argument of the poems and their literary context, Targoff buries them under a mountain of misconceptions and errors regarding Donne's works and the intellectual world from which they emerged. In both cases, little light is cast upon the ostensible subject of these studies. R. v. Young North Carolina State University The Playfulness ofGerard Manley Hopkins. By Joseph J. Feeney, S. J. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008. ISBN978-0-7546-6005-7. Pp. xxi--199. $99.95. Joseph Feeney,S.}., isawellknown Hopkins scholar. He has published numerous articles, delivered many lectures in America and Europe about the literary works of G. M. Hopkins. He has also served as Co-Editor of The Hopkins Quarterly for several years. His first published book is an impressive scholarly work. Feeney announces his bold scholarly intentions in the first line of his Preface: "In presenting the playfulness of Gerard Manley Hopkins I want, quite simply and frankly, to change the way Hopkins is read as a poet and known as a person" (xv). This is an audacious aspiration. Does he realize this intention? Let us first examine his efforts before offering an assessment. Feeney's approach is not a middling examination of Hopkins' writings; he surveys the whole Hopkins canon-poems, journals, letters, and sermons in quest of finding his verbal playfulness. Thus, the book is filled with multiple examples in every expressive mode. He notes instance after instance of Hopkins' extraordinary capacities for wordplay. 358 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE Beforehe begins his survey,he attempts to construct a definition of"playfulness" by referencing the studies of [ohan Huizinga (Homo Ludens: A Study of the PlayElements in Culture, Boston: Beacon, 1955) as his mentor on the ludic in human artistic culture. Feeney concludes, "I simply define 'playfulness' in terms of four qualities identified by Huizinga: (1) fun, (2) creativity, (3) contest, and (4) style" (xviii). He sums up Huizinga categories as "playfulness" (xix). The pattern of the book is organized around what the author calls ''A Ludic Biography:' brief narratives of the chronological order of Hopkins' life in which Feeney traces the ludic facets of Hopkins' playful personality and the ways he expressed them. The book is filled with innumerable citations of Hopkins' "playfulness" as a youth, as an Oxford student, as a Jesuit student, as a priest, as a writer. Feeney's survey is a prodigious combing through Hopkins canon, so comprehensively that a reader is struck afresh with Hopkins' extraordinary verbal capacities in every expressive form. In such a plenum of citations of Hopkins' "playfulness;' only a few representative examples can here be selected as illustrations of the author's identification of verbal fun throughout Hopkins' writings. Hopkins' playfulness was noted by his friends when he was in lower-school studies. His nickname was "Skin"a take-offfrom the last three letters ofhis surname. A school chum described him as a "kaleidoscopic, parti-coloured harlequinesque, thaumatropic being" (8)! When he was studying in Wales to become a Jesuit he wrote a 49-line comic poem titled, "Consule [ones" making fun...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 357-361
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.