With Exiles, Ron Hansen tells the story of a notorious shipwreck that prompted Gerard Manley Hopkins to break years of “elected silence” with an outpouring of dazzling poetry.
In December 1875 the steamship Deutschland left Bremen, bound for England and then America. On board were five young nuns who, exiled by Bismarck’s laws against Catholic religious orders, were going...more
Though little is known of the actual nuns' lives, Hansen creates i...more
Listen and drink this in:
"As kingfishers catch fir...more
The story basically parallels the life and death of the 5 nuns leaving on the Deutschland for America (because of persecution under Bismark) with that of the life and death of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Among other themes it explores the themes of vocation and transience,...more
Hopkins's narrative poem "The Wreck of the Deutchland"--his first lengthy experiment in "sprung rhythm," as well as one the great poems that never saw print in his lifetime--is the centerpiece...more
I’m not really a fan of poetry* and I began this book with virtuall...more
Who has not harbored an ecstatic longing for a world without boundaries, safe within the unconditional, all encompassing, loving arms of God?
In this tale, Hopkins' God is all powerful but not demonstrably kind. God's power is awesome and seductive. God's ways are inexplicable, as unknowable as the vicis...more
Ron Hansen's prose is very effective and moving. You get caught up in the nineteenth century. You learn why ship wrecks were so common in those times. The stories of the five nuns who perished in the wreck is also moving. Hansen does an excellent job of integrating his...more
Other than that, I liked it. Impeccable use of the English language. And it made me want to read more Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Hopkins is the only English poet of his era that I truly love -- a Modern writing in the Victorian era. He really knew how to use sound.
However, I actually found the imagined stories of the 5 real nuns (who, by perishing in a shipwreck, inspired Hopkins' return to poetry) more moving than the mostly factual story of Hopkins, which was surprisingly dry. I guess that's why fiction exists -- perhaps a few more liberties should have been taken!