The Near and Distant God
Poetry, Idealism and Religious Thought from Hölderlin to Eliot

Ian Cooper

Legenda (General Series)

Legenda

3 October 2008  •  194pp

ISBN: 978-1-906540-00-5 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ISBN: 978-1-351194-63-1 (Taylor & Francis ebook)

EnglishGermanPhilosophyTheology


Poetry and philosophy from the time of Kant to the mid-twentieth century are centrally concerned with the question of how the Spirit - or the Holy Spirit - is present in the world. Cooper argues that a major strand in the development of modern poetry in German and English can be seen as a protracted response to the religious crises of post-Idealist thought. The German tradition develops through poets such as Hölderlin as much as through philosophers such as Hegel and Nietzsche, and in England German ideas profoundly influenced the British Idealist school. This compelling study makes parallel readings of German and English writers, showing that their affinities are deeper and more historically-based than has previously been realised. Eduard Mörike and Gerard Manley Hopkins, both churchmen, each encountered Idealism as students in their respective countries: each responded to it in his spiritual verse. And we find similar parallels in two of the defining works of twentieth-century poetry: Rilke's Duino Elegies and Eliot's Four Quartets.

Ian Cooper is Centenary Research Fellow at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Reviews:

  • ‘This is an intellectually distinguished, engagingly written and outstandingly original book, which succeeds admirably in its aim of tracing the close and continuous connection of lyric poetry, philosophical idealism and religious thought from Hölderlin to Eliot... Its achievement is as relevant to theology as it is to German Studies and deserves the widest possible readership.’ — unsigned, Forum for Modern Language Studies 46.1, January 2010, 110
  • ‘A sophisticated example of how literary studies may benefit from approaches that are theologically and spiritually mindful.’ — Helena M. Tomko, Modern Language Review 105.2, 2010, 512-13 (full text online)
  • ‘This study is densely written (something that should be applauded rather than criticized!) and cogently argued... Intellectually highly rewarding.’ — Rüdiger Görner, Comparative Critical Studies 7.2–3, 2010, 405-08
  • ‘He avoids the pitfall of many comparable studies, in which poems are merely mined for their philosophical content--a fate that especially Holderlin, Rilke, and Eliot have frequently suffered in the past. His readings of the poems emphasize the process of writing and reading--in these processes, transcendence can be experienced, and the promise of community be enacted. Cooper's fine analytical skills give us many fresh perspectives on a series of major poems.’ — Johannes Wich-Schwarz, Christianity and Literature Autumn 2010
  • ‘What seems like a huge and bold undertaking is impressively achieved... compelling and, at times, beautiful writing.’ — Carly McLaughlin, Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen 248, 2011, 166-67
  • ‘Cooper succeeds in establishing the centrality of theology to the work of Hölderlin, and in tracing the afterlife of Hölderlin's poetic religiosity he expands our awareness of the prehistory of the high modernist struggle to come to terms with Spirit.’ — Nathaniel Davis, Journal of Modern Literature 35.1, Fall 2011, 196-99

Bibliography entry:

Cooper, Ian, The Near and Distant God: Poetry, Idealism and Religious Thought from Hölderlin to Eliot (Cambridge: Legenda, 2008)

First footnote reference: 35 Ian Cooper, The Near and Distant God: Poetry, Idealism and Religious Thought from Hölderlin to Eliot (Cambridge: Legenda, 2008), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Cooper, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Cooper, Ian. 2008. The Near and Distant God: Poetry, Idealism and Religious Thought from Hölderlin to Eliot (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Cooper 2008: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Cooper 2008: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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