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Touching God: Hopkins and Love

By Duc Dau

Love is often called a leap of faith. But can faith be described as a leap of love? In Touching God: Hopkins and Love, Duc Dau argues that the conversion of Gerard Manley Hopkins to Roman Catholicism was one of his most romantic acts. Touching God is the first book devoted to love in the writings of Hopkins, illuminating our understanding of him as a romantic poet. Discussions of desire in Hopkins’ poetry have focused on his unrequited attraction to men. In contrast, Dau turns to Luce Irigaray's and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s theories of mutual touch to uncover the desire Hopkins cultivated and celebrated: his love for Christ. This book demonstrates how descriptions of touching played a vital role in the poet’s vision of spiritual eroticism. Forging a new way of reading desire and the body in Hopkins’ writings, the work offers fresh interpretations of his poetry.

"Duc Dau has written an exciting and provocative book, […] a worthy and timely addition to the world of Hopkins scholarship, bringing a fresh, innovative, and at times deliberately challenging approach to the too-often-overlooked area of love in the writing of Hopkins. […] Far from denying the corporeal, this approach rightly draws attention to a frequently overlooked rich spiritual eroticism found nestling at the very heart of so much of Hopkins’s writing." — Review, The Hopkins Quarterly

"It is a rare book that can speak to a feminist or queer reader as well as a traditional Catholic; Touching God is one such book." — Frederick Roden, author of Same-Sex Desire in Victorian Religious Culture 

"This study will contribute to a new understanding not only for readers of Hopkins but also for those concerned with the subject of Christianity and sexuality. It is a first-rate contribution to the whole subject of the theology of the body." —James Finn Cotter, author of Inscape: The Christology and Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Purchase from Anthem Press

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