Today I finished the most important part of the Junior Poet project: an annotated bibliography of the criticism on Gerard Manley Hopkins (for which I read and commented on 6 books and 22 articles). It wasn’t actually that much work – maybe 2000 pages of reading spread across two months, plus writing a paragraph about each work read – and was certainly amusing at times. I do feel sorry, though, for those who are only halfway done, given that it’s due on Monday – that gives them four days to read 1000 pages. Doable, but not fun.

One strange fact: I actually enjoy reading deconstructionist literary criticism. It is often absurd, yes, but also often has fascinating insights; and they often talk about how language can convey meaning, a subject I find fascinating. Wikipedia describes deconstruction as “rigorously pursu[ing] the meaning of a text to the point of undoing the oppositions on which it is apparently founded, and to the point of showing that those foundations are irreducibly complex, unstable or impossible”; what exactly is wrong with that, done well? It can result in absurd theories, but is often more insightful than the other two main types of criticism I saw, those being “just read the poem and closely analyse the metaphor and language used so that we can rephrase the poem in philosophical language” and “look at the philosophical/literary/cultural influences on the poet and then try to find evidence of their having influenced the poet in the poems themselves.”

So, uh, yeah. Anyone else have anything insightful to say about different types of literary criticism? If not, you probably won’t be hearing about JPo from me until I get around to writing a post analyzing “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves.”


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