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Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart [Hardcover]

Gavin Hopps
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2009
Morrissey is arguably the greatest disturbance popular music has ever known. Even more than the choreographed carelessness of punk and the hyperbolic gestures of glam rock and the New Romantics, Morrissey's early bookish ineptitude, his celebration of the ordinary, and his subversive endorsement of celibacy, abstinence and rock 'n' roll revolutionised the world of British pop. As an increasingly pugnacious solo artist, he consistently adopts the outsider's perspective and dares us to confront genuinely uncomfortable subjects. In his brilliant and original book, Gavin Hopps examines the work of this compelling performer, whose intelligence, humour, suffering and awkwardness have fascinated audiences around the world for the last 25 years. Hopps traces the trajectory of Morrissey's career - from its beginning in the early 80s with the Smiths to the release of his latest album, "Ringleader of the Tormentors" - and outlines the contours and contradictions of the singer's elusive persona. The book illuminates Morrissey's coyness (how can he remain a mystery when he tells us too much?) , his dramatised melancholy (surely more of a radical existential protest than the gimmick some believe it to be) and his complex attitudes towards loneliness and alienation, as well as his intriguing sense of the religious. In the course of this penetrating study of Morrissey's oeuvre, Hopps offers close readings of individual lyrics and illuminating comparisons with a range of literary figures - such as Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Paul Celan and Philip Larkin. "Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart", at once erudite and accessible, argues convincingly for Morrissey's inclusion in the pantheon of literary greats.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. (1 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082641866X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826418661
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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If you want a further rehash of Morrissey's collaboration with Johnny Marr and the Smiths or another speculative inquiry into his love life, then this book is NOT for you. If, however, you have been longing for a thoughtful, respectful reading of Morrissey's lyrics in terms of theme, word choice and strategy, as well as an analysis of his work in the specific context of Britain and Ireland's literary greats (Wilde, Larkin, Rossetti, Joyce, Betjeman, Beckett, Joyce), then you should buy this book immediately and prepare for an enjoyable read. "Morrissey: The Pageant of his Bleeding Heart" adroitly brings together many observations of Morrissey's work (its simultaneous emphasis on despair and levity; its tendency to dwell on the eccentric, the infirm, the monstrous; the attempts at finding a way to live and love in a world beset by categorization, failure and embarrassment, etc.) and weaves them into a coherent whole. What is most striking is how Hopps is somehow able to articulate what many Morrissey devotees have felt (ok--what I have felt!), sensed or loved about his work but have as yet been unable to express in so eloquent a fashion. Hopps' work, with its judicious use of literary criticism and passionate emphasis on always going back to the source--Morrissey's words--, makes one long for a print edition of Morrissey's complete lyrics. "The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart" is an intelligent examination of the artist--one that Morrissey very much deserves and one that we have been needing for a very long time. --Regina Agricola, Chatham, VA USA)

About the Author

Gavin Hopps is Research Councils UK Academic Fellow in the School of Divinity at St. Mary's College, the University of St. Andrews, UK.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Academic? Yes. Enormously enlightening? Yes. 6 Sep 2009
By titus
This is an exceptional book. Yes it is an academic book, and yes it does use long words, and yes there are bits that are wrong or that you may disagree with. However...

It picks out themes and paradoxes in Morrissey's work that I'd never spotted, highlights areas that no one else has looked at in print before, and generally applies an academic's rigour and wide ranging learning to an artist that rewards such interest.

Each page offers fresh insights; rather than the usual quotes from A Taste Of Honey there is a whole seam mined from Jo's, "I'm bad on purpose" that runs deeper and wider through Morrissey's work than has been developed before. The ornamentation or disruption that the 'melisma' of Morrissey's vocal style brings to his work is linked with the 'florid undulations of Art Nouveau'. (Don't worry, it's all explained and developed!)

If you're interested in Morrissey and want to think about his work in a whole new level then this book is brilliant
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but illuminating 21 July 2013
By James
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Morrissey is frequently caricatured as either woefully maudlin and introspective or a narcissistic cult figure who is more than happy to polarize opinion. Hopps' critical reading of Morrissey's influential work as the leader singer of The Smiths and as a solo artist seeks to transcend these limited representations of Morrissey, and makes a strong case for this songwriter being treated with the same respect as the writers and poets of literary canon. Hopps focuses on what he calls Morrissey's 'equivocal voice', his natural sympathy with marginalized identities and his knowing self-parody. His readings of Morrissey's lyrics are frequently illuminating and Hopps pays particular attention to songs and records that have traditionally been met with critical derision; a standout section is dedicated to reevaluating 'Kill Uncle' as an album orientated towards camp, lightness and superficial surfaces. Other reviews have mentioned the challenge posed by Hopps' prose and his academic vocabulary. It should be mentioned that this is written like an academic treatise or thesis on Morrissey and uses references to film, theater and philosophy. To some extent this style can prove to be difficult, but re-reading passages and piecing together Hopps' different insights is thoroughly rewarding. Ultimately Hopps is moving beyond a simple 'good' or 'bad' assessment of Morrissey canon and pioneering a mature and measured approach to his work. For this reason it is essential food for thought for any fan of one of popular music's most singular artist.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A groundbreaking work! 9 Sep 2009
I concur with the positive reviews previously written; the book is indeed `exceptional', `insightful' and full of references that are `radical, thrilling and endlessly wide-ranging'. Rather than repeat what has been so well articulated already, may I take the opportunity to humbly make a few suggestions and observations that may aid the person evaluating the reviews with an eye to purchase and increase even further their enjoyment of the book.

Firstly, align your expectations. As has been previously indicated, this is far from simply a `more on Morrissey' book; the author has handled his subject with a refusal to simply produce a work re-presenting what may be located in other works with a few extra pieces of research and one or two extra observations thrown in to merit the title `a new work on Morrissey'. Approach the book with an open mind and recognise that the author is not generating work that has been dumbed-down. Secondly, engage your imagination. The author refuses to deal with solely the literal and factual but leads you to places where you are asked to investigate more closely, to look from different angles and reflect on insights that, I suspect, have been hard won by the author. Lastly, stand back and re-contextualise. As has been previously noted, the book is often set in a much wider context than simply popular culture and needs to be approached understanding that the author paints on a far wider canvas albeit (and this is one of the great achievements of the work) with the deftest of brush-strokes.

The reviewer who referred to the author's `courage' made a key insight.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary 29 Aug 2009
I found this to be a hugely enjoyable and insightful book about one of the most significant artists of our time; brimful of wisdom and delights. It's hugely refreshing to have an academic -- or non-journalistic -- study of the man, and one that has the courage to place Morrissey in a far wider cultural, literary and philosophical context than we're used to. There have been so many features and books that look no further than Shelagh Delaney and Oscar Wilde, but Hopps' points of reference are radical, thrilling, endlessly wide-ranging, and all ring true -- from Rosseti, Larkin, Betjeman and Beckett, to the Marx Brothers and the Old Testament. Above all, its a joy to read --intelligent, witty and relentless in its pursuit of the truth of the man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Morrissey 23 Dec 2013
By Mrs C
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Again it was a present for my husband for Christmas so do not know if he found it good, but saying that he is a great Morrissey fan so he will enjoy it. Go out and buy it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Academe Does Pop
Academe Does Pop: Gavin Hopps, Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart

According to the dust wrapper of his book, Gavin Hopps is an academic at the University of St... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Michael X Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Analytical take on talent
I'm not Morrissey's biggest fan in the world; maybe that helps. I'm not that interested in his exploits as such, but I'm intrigued to know where he's coming from. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Screwpine
5.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Foundation on the Morrissey Mystery Trail
(My two-year-old review of the first hardback edition that I'm finally posting)

The media will lampoon and the trolls ululate, but Gavin Hopps has sketched the measure... Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2011 by Carokali
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
This book contains nothing Morrissey fans don't already know, it's been bulked up with a load of big words, misinformed conjecture and anaemic analogy. Read more
Published on 16 Dec 2010 by N. I. Kavanagh
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read
Entertaining, witty and informative - Pageant is unlike any other pop music book I have read. Cleary it is written by a huge fan, but a fan who happens to also be highly... Read more
Published on 18 Sep 2010 by Cherry_blossom
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting approach.
This review seems somewhat superfluous as a Morrissey fan is going to read this book and all like it regardless. Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2010 by Lewis A. Mills
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear...
I bought this book because it promised a different approach to Morrissey from the usual rambles through Smithdom, the severed alliance and lost in Los Angeles. Read more
Published on 1 Sep 2009 by MozFan
1.0 out of 5 stars Impenetrable
I tried. I really, really tried, but ultimate failure after page 20. I'm sure his heart is in the right place, but he made a cross for his own back by deciding to make the book... Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2009 by Mr. P. Finan
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