The Compromised chronotope of Christminster: Hardy and Hopkins’s medieval Oxford
Centered on the unique chronotope of Oxford, this essay traces the ways Gerard Manley Hopkins and Thomas Hardy invoke and compromise our ability to relate past to present. In the sonnet ‘Duns Scotus’s Oxford’ and the novel Jude the Obscure, Hopkins and Hardy respectively present the city of Oxford as a central confluence of medieval and early modern pasts with a Victorian present. To further link past and present, the poet and novelist both enter into the medieval conceit of the wind, wherein a lover gains intimacy with the beloved through mutually shared breath, but they do so for cross-purposes. Whereas a connection to the past is preserved in Hopkins’s sonnet by a theological understanding of the ether, any such connection is a dangerous illusion in Hardy’s novel. Yet, even with this divergence, Hardy, like Hopkins, still leads the reader into a shared sacramental intimacy suggested through medieval influences on the novel.
Comments by Laura Otis and two anonymous reviewers were integral in improving an earlier version of this paper.
- Altick, R. 1965. Introduction to Past and Present, by Thomas Carlyle, v–xviii. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Bakhtin, M. 1981. The Dialogical Imagination: Four Essays by M. M. Bakhtin, trans. C. Emerson and M. Holquist. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
- Benson, L.D., ed. 1987. The Riverside Chaucer. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Carew, T. 1640. A Prayer to the Wind. In Coelum Britannicum. London. Early English Books Online: http://gateway.proquest.com.proxy.library.emory.edu/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&res_id=xri:eebo&rft_id=xri:eebo:image:7793:11.
- Carlyle, T.  1965. Past and Present. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Farrell, J. 1997. Crossroads to Community: Jude the Obscure and the Chronotope of Wessex. In Dialogue and Critical Discourse Language, Culture, Critical Theory, ed. M. Macovski, 65–78. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fischler, A. 1985. A Kinship with Job: Obscurity and Remembrance in Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. Journal of English and Germanic Philology 84(4): 515–533.Google Scholar
- Frank, E. 1979. Literary Architecture: Essays Toward a Tradition: Walter Pater, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Marcel Proust, Henry James. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Gardner, W.H. 1948. Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Study of Idiosyncrasy in Relation to Poetic Tradition. 2 vols. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Hardy, T.  1999. Jude the Obscure. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.Google Scholar
- Holmes, O. 2015. Petrarch and the Vernacular Lyric Past. In The Cambdridge Companion to Petrarch. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Hopkins, G.M. 1959. The Sermons and Devotional Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins, ed. C. Devlin. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hopkins, G.M. 1986. Gerard Manley Hopkins, Oxford Authors. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hopkins, G.M. 2013. Gerard Manley Hopkins Correspondence, ed. L. Higgins and M. F. Suarez. 8 vols. Vol. 1, The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- King James Bible. 2017. http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.com/.
- LaPorte, C. 2011. Victorian Poets and the Changing Bible. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.Google Scholar
- Mariani, P. 1990. The Sound of Oneself Breathing. In Critical Essays on Gerard Manley Hopkins, ed. A Sulloway. Boston: G. K. Hall.Google Scholar
- Marucci, F. 1994. The Fine Delight that Fathers Thought: Rhetoric and Medievalism in Gerard Manley Hopkins. Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press.Google Scholar
- Migne, J. P., ed. 1919. Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, series Graeca. Paris, France.Google Scholar
- Novalis. 1997. Christendom or Europe. In Novalis: Philosophical Writings, ed. M. Stoljar. New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Rogers, S. 1999. Medievalism in the Last Novels of Thomas Hardy: New Wine in Old Bottles. English Literature in Transition, 1880–1920 42(3): 298–316.Google Scholar
- Saville, J.F. 2000. A Queer Chivalry: The Homoerotic Asceticism of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia.Google Scholar
- Wilhelm, J. 1971. Medieval Song: An Anthology of Hymns and Lyrics. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company.Google Scholar
- Wordsworth, W.  1914. Wordsworth: Poems in Two Volumes. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar