The More I Owe You
by Michael Sledge
Counterpoint. 329 pages, $15.95
ROBERT WALDRON’S novella, The Secret Dublin Diary of Gerard Manley Hopkins, paints a brilliant and haunting portrait of a complicated man caught in the conflict between the spiritual and the sensual. An ordained Catholic priest, Hopkins was fascinated by beauty and was especially aware of male beauty. At times he felt attractions to male friends, which he both sentimentalized and spiritualized. Before entering the church, he met the precocious seventeen-year-old Digby Mackworth Dolben and fell head over heels in love with him. Sadly, Dolben drowned while teaching a friend’s son how to swim, and Hopkins was haunted by this loss for the rest of his days.
It was while a student at Oxford that Hopkins converted to Catholicism, causing a temporary split with his Anglican family. Later, after speaking with John Henry Newman, he joined the Society of Jesus, with which he continued his studies before being ordained as a Jesuit priest. He was eventually sent to Dublin to teach Greek at University College, traveling out of obedience to his Jesuit superiors and, in so doing, suffering the additional loss of being exiled from family, friends, and homeland.