Kenneth Haynes - ‘Perplexed Persistence’: The Criticism of Geoffrey Hill 213
Kenneth Haynes ‘Perplexed Persistence’: The Criticism of Geof frey Hill In his Collected Critical Writings (2008), Geof frey Hill often praises writers for the resistance they of fer through their words. The praise has committed him to exploring related questions: what is it that should be resisted, where and how does resistance take place, and why is it praiseworthy? He is alert to the possibility that an Irish bull lurks within the admonition to resist (‘Resist authority’ – ‘who says?’); sometimes it is the impulse to resist that should be resisted. Because Hill is aware of many kinds of resistance, his critical analyses are diverse. For example, on some occasions he is hostile to clichés and celebrates shocks of recognition as a means to resist their inertia; on others, cliché or commonplace is to be restored and renewed rather than dislocated or shocked. Dif ferent instances of resistance lead Hill to theorise about it in dif ferent ways, but his concern with the phe- nomenon is constant throughout the criticism. In the Collected Critical Writings the word ‘resist’ and its cognates appear almost five dozen times. Its first appearance, on the first page of the book, is already dense with suggestion and implication. Hill refers to ‘the real challenge’ that lies behind ‘the façade of challenge’: the real challenge is ‘that of resisting the attraction of terminology itself, a power at once supportive and coercive’ (CCW, p. 3). Three things should be noted. First, resistance is a response...
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