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Geoffrey Hill and his Contexts


Edited By Piers Pennington and Matthew Sperling

Geoffrey Hill is one of the most significant poets currently at work in the English language. The essays gathered in this book present a number of new contexts in which to explore a wide range of his writings, from the poems he wrote as an undergraduate to the recent volumes A Treatise of Civil Power (2007) and Collected Critical Writings (2008). Connections are made between the early and the later poetry, and between the poetry and the criticism, and archival materials are considered along with the published texts. The essays also make comparisons across disciplines, discussing Hill’s work in relation to theology, philosophy and intellectual history, to literature from other languages, and to the other arts. In doing so, they cast fresh light upon Hill’s dense, original and sometimes challenging writings, opening them up in new ways for all readers of his work.


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Introduction 1


Introduction The majority of the essays collected here began life as papers delivered at the conference ‘Geof frey Hill and his Contexts’, which was held at Keble College, Oxford, early in July 2008. That conference came at a significant moment in Hill’s career – only a few months after the publication of his Collected Critical Writings, a book of some 750 pages, and almost a year after the revised and expanded edition of A Treatise of Civil Power became the seventh collection of poetry to appear since Canaan (1996). This volume of essays comes at another significant moment. Not only is the archive of Hill’s literary papers and correspondence housed in the Brotherton Col- lection at Leeds now open for scholarly business, but in June 2010 Hill was elected as the forty-fourth Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford. What is more, a new Collected Poems is to be published in 2013: five new volumes, collectively titled ‘The Daybooks’, will be brought together with the five volumes published in the Collected Poems of 1985 – the ‘Hymns to Our Lady of Chartres’ included there also being much expanded – and the run of later collections beginning with Canaan. Two of these new volumes have recently been published independently, Oraclau | Oracles appearing in 2010 and Clavics in 2011, and three sections from another of the new sequences, Odi Barbare, are presented as the final item here. The two days of the conference opened with Geof frey Hill in con- versation with Rowan Williams,...

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