chapter  2
11 Pages

Literary Play: A Theory and a Definition

Throughout Hopkins life, he played in many ways, climbing trees, sketching, hiking, swimming, fishing, playing piano and violin, composing music, punning, joking, and laughing at himself and others. After his death he was remembered as taking interest in all our games, full of fun, full of humour, full of high spirits and innocent fun, a man with a very merry laugh. But Gerard Hopkins was preeminently a poet and a writer, and he also played as poet and writer. To understand the playfulness of his writing, a theory and a definition are needed to provide a firm and clear basis for calling his poetry and prose playful. For theory and definition Hopkins look to the classical study of play, Johan Huizingas Homo Ludens (1938). A scholarly and original book, it examines many fields of human experience: cultural anthropology, myth, language, psychology, philosophy, religion, sport. But Huizingas study is cultural and anthropological, thus group-oriented rather than individual-based.