Exiles

Exiles

Book - 2008
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Combining a thrilling tragedy at sea with the seeming shipwreck of Gerard Manley Hopkins' own life, 'Exiles' dramatises the passionate inner search of religious life and makes it accessible in a way that only great art can.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2008.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374150976
0374150974
Branch Call Number: HANSEN R
Characteristics: 227 pages ; 22 cm.

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dennismmiller
Sep 15, 2016

In 1875, the steamship Deutschland, bound for America, struck a sandbar off the coast of England and sank. Among the dead were five German Franciscan nuns, fleeing Bismarck's campaign against the Catholic Church, headed to Carondelet, Missouri to teach in the large German community there. According to survivors' accounts, the five stood in a circle as the ship sank, calling out, "O Christ, come swiftly!" At Stonyhurst, an estate in Lancashire owned by the Society of Jesus, a superior remarked to a young novice that the event ought to be immortalized in poetry. The novice was Gerard Manley Hopkins, and his poem, The Wreck of the Deutschland, marked the resurrection of an aborted poetic career which would leave an indelible mark on English literature before his own early death at the age of 44.

Exiles tells the life stories of the nuns and Hopkins in parallel, with the wreck as the nexus connecting them. It is difficult to tell how much is invented - Hansen (author of Mariette in Ecstasy and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) not only presents selections from Hopkins' letters as letters but also inserts other passages from his writings into his dialogue; the nuns, on the other hand, are less historically rooted. The whole forms a compelling exploration of the nature of religious vocation and the communion of saints.

c
Charlie68
Jul 21, 2016

A very vividly written account of a shipwreck off the coast of England. Interweaved through the story is Gerard Manly Hopkins and his poetry, hard though rewarding.

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