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Style and Faith [Hardcover]

Geoffrey Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

April 24 2003 1582431078 978-1582431079 export ed
Seven masterly essays on those inspired writings, both sacred and secular, in which things inaccessible are made suddenly accessible, and diction and desire are miraculously at one. In this, his first collection of essays in more than a decade, Geoffrey Hill again returns to "the Enemy's country," that fallen world where both scholarship and ignorance lie in ambush of Truth, to rescue inspired literature from misreading. His texts include the Oxford English Dictionary, Tyndale's Bible , and poems by Henry Vaughan and T. S. Eliot, as well the vast apparatus of opinion about them. Style and Faith --seven essays in the moral life of literature and the moral burden of the poet--will interest anyone who values precision and concision, and literary criticism in the service of the commonweal.

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Review

"[Hill's essays] are among the most painstaking [and] brilliant analyses of literature in our century, and have expanded on his poetry's concerns for the guilts and guiles of language and the moral recognitions of the word."

About the Author

Geoffrey Hill was born in 1932, in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. His books include nine volumes of poetry and two previous collections of essays. Since 1988 he has lived in Massachusetts and taught at Boston University, where he is Professor of Literature and Religion and co-director of the Editorial Institute.

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It is touching, as well as contingent, that the publication of the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) should have taken place in the centenary year of Gerard Manley Hopkins's death. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Geoffrey Hill is most commonly recognised as one of the most difficult, and important, poets of our day. Born in Bromsgrove, England, in 1932, Hill has written several volumes of excellent poetry. However, he is also a first-class literary historian and critic, as is evident from this collection of seven previously published articles, which date from 1989 to 1999. Five of them stem from the Times Literary Supplement, such as the first two, which are review articles on the publication of the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, in 1989, and on a 'modernized spelling' version of Tyndale's bible, and the Revised English Bible, a new translation. With a skill few others could hope to match, Hill weighs the value and inadequacies of the works. Other articles include a rumination on Henry Vaughan's "The Night" and other forays into 16th and 17th century literature, his area of expertise.
While I would heartily recommend Hill's first two volumes of criticism, "The Lords of Limit", and "The Enemy's Country", to anyone interested in poetry, 16th/17th century literature, or Geoffrey Hill himself, it is harder to unreservedly praise this latest offering. This is not because it offers "nothing new" -- that is not my chief reservation. It is rather that the selection seems at times to lack coherence. One would have liked to have had perhaps another article, written especially for this volume, or at least an introduction of sorts that placed the individual essays in relation to one another and to the poet-critic's work as a whole.
Despite this minor criticism, this work offers a serious perspective unavailable elsewhere, and contains enough gems to warrant a good deal of study.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important collection of previously published articles May 24 2003
By The Light Fantastic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Geoffrey Hill is most commonly recognised as one of the most difficult, and important, poets of our day. Born in Bromsgrove, England, in 1932, Hill has written several volumes of excellent poetry. However, he is also a first-class literary historian and critic, as is evident from this collection of seven previously published articles, which date from 1989 to 1999. Five of them stem from the Times Literary Supplement, such as the first two, which are review articles on the publication of the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, in 1989, and on a 'modernized spelling' version of Tyndale's bible, and the Revised English Bible, a new translation. With a skill few others could hope to match, Hill weighs the value and inadequacies of the works. Other articles include a rumination on Henry Vaughan's "The Night" and other forays into 16th and 17th century literature, his area of expertise.
While I would heartily recommend Hill's first two volumes of criticism, "The Lords of Limit", and "The Enemy's Country", to anyone interested in poetry, 16th/17th century literature, or Geoffrey Hill himself, it is harder to unreservedly praise this latest offering. This is not because it offers "nothing new" -- that is not my chief reservation. It is rather that the selection seems at times to lack coherence. One would have liked to have had perhaps another article, written especially for this volume, or at least an introduction of sorts that placed the individual essays in relation to one another and to the poet-critic's work as a whole.
Despite this minor criticism, this work offers a serious perspective unavailable elsewhere, and contains enough gems to warrant a good deal of study.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Erudite but bizarre Oct. 22 2004
By James Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was introduced to Geoffrey Hill, both as poet and critic, by a friend whom I told of my love for 17th-century English literature. Style and Faith has only deepened this love, but it was an entangling, rather than enchanting, encounter for me.

I found Hill to be at his best when he tackles the literature directly, as in the essay on Vaughn's "Night" and, to a lesser degree, the essay paralleling Hooker and Burton. Hill's gratitude for this literary and spiritual heritage is profound and infectious. In addition, the bibliographical reach of the book is wonderful and has led me to make many further related purchases.

But his loyalty to these distant icons of an age with a greatly different "pitch" than ours can handicap Hill as well. This shows most in his book reviews, which, though pointed and learned, are impossibly crabbed and narrow. For instance, while there is no doubt (in my mind, at least) that the power of Scripture as written in English is closely dependent on the translator's style, to insist, as Hill does, that it is an abomination of the highest order to publish Tyndale's New Testament with modern spelling is patently ridiculous. Style and faith are definitely linked, but faith and orthography are not.

Nevertheless, there are few critics writing for the public who are as steeped in our literary inheritance as Hill, and these essays, while erratic, are highly valuable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Jan. 10 2007
By Harold Wright - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John Hollander calls Hill "the finest British poet of our time." The praise is worthilly placed. He is a powerful force in the realm of literary thought, and beyond. Any souls who have read the essayist work of Dorothy Sayers or G.K Chesterton will find in these pages of Hill a literary kinship of souls. Although their ideas may differ, one can easilly imagine these three essayists gathered around the same table exchanging vigorous thoughts. Hill seems to possess the temperament of ruggedness with contemplation that is Seamus Heaney.

Some of the previous reviewers criticized the essays as lacking coherence; they forget these are essays, not a formal treatise. The essays are Hill's look from various angles and postures of thought along one line of thought.

As far as what one reviewer referred to as his crankiness, it is refreshing to find a contemporary writer standing firmly upon thoughts not influenced merely by the latest literary fads. In this way he is, as all the best artists, brilliantly and refreshingly original.
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