Hugh Kenner was friend and mentor to The Gerard Manley Hopkins Festival since its inception in 1978. A tree, a fine strong oak tree, is planted in the Gerard Manley Hopkins Garden in memory of Hugh Kenner (January 7, 1923 - November 24, 2003), friend and supporter of the Society since the Hopkins Festival started in 1987. In July 2004, The Gerard Manley Hopkins Society, with Maryann, planted a splendid oak tree in The Hopkins Garden. Hugh will be fondly remembered by all of us, his warmth; his patient guidance; his vision of what we should be trying to achieve.. The event was a stirring reminder of Hugh Kenner who came so often to encourage, to advise and to support the organisers of the Gerard Manley Hopkins International Literary Festival. Ar dheis de go raibh a anam.
Hugh Kenner was the author of more than 25 books and contributed to 100s. Subject matter included not only Literary Criticism but also such areas as Information Technology, Cartoons Film, and modern a rchitecture. Hugh avoided the pedantic jargon of academia favouring insead his own witty, idiosyncratic style. In this latter category, we note his book on The Geodesic Dome of H Buckminster Fuller and a book on Jones, noted American cartoonist. Kenner was also, at various times, a resident contributor to various Computer and Arts Magazines. He even built his own computer at one stage!
Truly a renaissance man of our time!
Probably, the book by which Kenner will be best remembered is the majesterial The Pound Era, published in 1946 and introducing the work and achievement of Ezra Pound to a world-wide audience. Writing in 1971, Kenner described Ezra Pound's contribution to the birth of Modernism as, 'an x-ray movin picture of how our epoch was extricated from the fin de siècle.'
His interest in Irish writing was especially marked and included not only James Joyce and Samuel Beckett but also W. B. Yeats - and our own Artistic Director, Desmond Egan. Indeed, our original contact with Hugh Kenner was when he launched Desmond Egan's Collected Poems (published by The American Poetry Foundation) in 1983 in the Irish Embassy in Washington D.C. Over the following twenty years, Hugh remained a friend and edited Egan's Selected Poems He also edited - for another American publisher - a book of critical essays about Egan. It was Kenner who invented the new technical term fractel in relation to Egan's experimentation with multiple voices. The Gerard Manley Hopkins Society were lucky - and above all, honoured - to have had a scholar and visionary of Hugh Kenner's stature for mentor and support from the early days in 1987 when the Society was getting started. We treasure the memory! Hugh Kenner was well-known as a visitor, lecturer and contributor at the Gerard Manley Hopkins Festival almost since its inception. The Committee and visitors greatly valued his scholarship - always lightly worn and presented with wit - as well as his support. We also enjoyed his lively company, his reminiscences and amazing range of information. We knew there was a giant in our midst. We wish to put on record our great appreciation of all that Hugh Kenner has meant to us on so many levels. Nobody can replace his impact on the Summer School - or, his place in our hearts. We send deepest condolences to Mary Anne - herself well-known and loved at our Summer School - and to Rob and Lisa. As a gesture of our admiration and affection, the 17th Gerard Manley Hopkins Festival will be dedicated to the memory of Hugh Kenner. The Committee also intends to arrange a special Remembrance Service in Monasterevin shortly, led by our President, Father Denis O'Sullivan. Other absent friends remembered in this way include James McKenna, sculptor of The Hopkins Monument, so admired by Hugh Kenner. May the tree increase and grow as Hugh Kenner's work has done!
Dublin's Joyce (Indiana University Press, 1956; rpt., Columbia University Press, 1987)
Gnomon: Essays in Contemporary Literature (1959)
The Art of Poetry ( 1959 )
Samuel Beckett : A Critical Study (Grove Press, 1961; rev. ed., 1968)
The Stoic Comedians: Flaubert, Joyce, and Beckett (1962) (illustrated by Guy Davenport)
Bucky: A Guided Tour of Buckminster Fuller (William Morrow, 1973)
A Reader's Guide to Samuel Beckett (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1973)
Joyce's Voices (University of California Press, 1978)
Ulysses (George Allen & Unwin, 1980; rev. ed., The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987)
A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers (Alfred A. Knopf, 1983)
A Sinking Island: The Modern English Writers (1988)
A Czech Perspective on Hopkins Poetry
Hopkins Festival Committee Celebrate Newbridge move with Dail Visit
Hopkins Festival Committee 21 yr Celebration in Arus
Norman White looks at Hopkins's links with Kildare and Ireland