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Michael DirdaThere have been several previous biographies of Hopkins, including a fine one by Robert Bernard Martin, an eminent scholar of Victorian poetry. But Mariani's possesses three great strengths: 1) Mariani has lived with Hopkins's poetry his entire life, ever since writing a commentary on the poems as his first book; 2) over the past 40 years, he has produced biographies of American poets who might be loosely viewed as the "sons of Gerard": Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, John Berryman and Robert Lowell; and 3) Mariani is a believing Catholic, with consequent sympathy and insight into Hopkins's religious convictions and experiences. In several ways, then, this is a spiritual biography, intensely focused on the poet's inner life, coupled with close analyses of his major poems.
—The Washington Post