Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Literary Life
Until recently, scholars were in agreement that Coleridge never returned to the project, despite Goethe's own belief in the s that he had in fact completed a long translation of the work. In September , Oxford University Press sparked a heated scholarly controversy by publishing an English translation of Goethe's work that purported to be Coleridge's long-lost masterpiece the text in question first appeared anonymously in Between and , Coleridge lived in Calne , Wiltshire and seemed able to focus on his work and manage his addiction, drafting Biographia Literaria.
He rented rooms from a local surgeon, Mr Page, on Church Street, just opposite the entrance to the churchyard. A blue plaque marks the property today. In April , Coleridge, with his addiction worsening, his spirits depressed, and his family alienated, took residence in the Highgate homes, then just north of London, of the physician James Gillman, first at South Grove and later at the nearby 3 The Grove. Gillman was partially successful in controlling the poet's addiction.
Coleridge remained in Highgate for the rest of his life, and the house became a place of literary pilgrimage for writers including Carlyle and Emerson.
In Gillman's home, Coleridge finished his major prose work, the Biographia Literaria mostly drafted in , and finished in , a volume composed of 23 chapters of autobiographical notes and dissertations on various subjects, including some incisive literary theory and criticism. He composed a considerable amount of poetry, of variable quality. He published other writings while he was living at the Gillman homes, notably the Lay Sermons of and , Sibylline Leaves , Hush , Aids to Reflection , and On the Constitution of the Church and State Coleridge also worked extensively on the various manuscripts which form his "Opus Maximum", a work which was in part intended as a post-Kantian work of philosophical synthesis.
The work was never published in his lifetime, and has frequently been seen as evidence for his tendency to conceive grand projects which he then had difficulty in carrying through to completion. But while he frequently berated himself for his "indolence", the long list of his published works calls this myth into some question.
Critics are divided on whether the "Opus Maximum", first published in , successfully resolved the philosophical issues he had been exploring for most of his adult life. Coleridge died in Highgate, London on 25 July as a result of heart failure compounded by an unknown lung disorder, possibly linked to his use of opium. Coleridge had spent 18 years under the roof of the Gillman family, who built an addition onto their home to accommodate the poet. Faith may be defined as fidelity to our own being, so far as such being is not and cannot become an object of the senses; and hence, by clear inference or implication to being generally, as far as the same is not the object of the senses; and again to whatever is affirmed or understood as the condition, or concomitant, or consequence of the same.
This will be best explained by an instance or example. That I am conscious of something within me peremptorily commanding me to do unto others as I would they should do unto me; in other words a categorical that is, primary and unconditional imperative; that the maxim regula maxima , or supreme rule of my actions, both inward and outward, should be such as I could, without any contradiction arising therefrom, will to be the law of all moral and rational beings.
Essay on Faith. Carlyle described him at Highgate: "Coleridge sat on the brow of Highgate Hill, in those years, looking down on London and its smoke-tumult, like a sage escaped from the inanity of life's battle The practical intellects of the world did not much heed him, or carelessly reckoned him a metaphysical dreamer: but to the rising spirits of the young generation he had this dusky sublime character; and sat there as a kind of Magus , girt in mystery and enigma; his Dodona oak-grove Mr.
Gilman's house at Highgate whispering strange things, uncertain whether oracles or jargon.
A Literary Life
Coleridge is buried in the aisle of St. Michael's Parish Church in Highgate, London. He was originally buried at Old Highgate Chapel but was re-interred in St.
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Michael's in Drew Clode, a member of St. Michael's plans to restore the crypt and allow public access.
Coleridge is one of the most important figures in English poetry. His poems directly and deeply influenced all the major poets of the age. He was known by his contemporaries as a meticulous craftsman who was more rigorous in his careful reworking of his poems than any other poet, and Southey and Wordsworth were dependent on his professional advice.
His influence on Wordsworth is particularly important because many critics have credited Coleridge with the very idea of "Conversational Poetry". As important as Coleridge was to poetry as a poet, he was equally important to poetry as a critic. His philosophy of poetry, which he developed over many years, has been deeply influential in the field of literary criticism.
This influence can be seen in such critics as A.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Literary Life
Lovejoy and I. Even those who have never read the Rime have come under its influence: its words have given the English language the metaphor of an albatross around one's neck, the quotation of "water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink" almost always rendered as "but not a drop to drink" , and the phrase "a sadder and a wiser man" usually rendered as "a sadder but wiser man".
Both Kubla Khan and Christabel have an additional " Romantic " aura because they were never finished.
Stopford Brooke characterised both poems as having no rival due to their "exquisite metrical movement" and "imaginative phrasing. The eight of Coleridge's poems listed above are now often discussed as a group entitled "Conversation poems". The term itself was coined in by George McLean Harper, who borrowed the subtitle of The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem to describe the seven other poems as well.
Harper himself considered that the eight poems represented a form of blank verse that is " Coleridge's The Eolian Harp and The Nightingale maintain a middle register of speech, employing an idiomatic language that is capable of being construed as un-symbolic and un-musical: language that lets itself be taken as 'merely talk' rather than rapturous 'song'. The last ten lines of Frost at Midnight were chosen by Harper as the "best example of the peculiar kind of blank verse Coleridge had evolved, as natural-seeming as prose, but as exquisitely artistic as the most complicated sonnet.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge Biography
Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee, Whether the summer clothe the general earth With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall Heard only in the trances of the blast, Or if the secret ministry of frost Shall hang them up in silent icicles, Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.
In , M. Abrams wrote a broad description that applies to the Conversation poems: "The speaker begins with a description of the landscape; an aspect or change of aspect in the landscape evokes a varied by integral process of memory, thought, anticipation, and feeling which remains closely intervolved with the outer scene.
In the course of this meditation the lyric speaker achieves an insight, faces up to a tragic loss, comes to a moral decision, or resolves an emotional problem. Often the poem rounds itself to end where it began, at the outer scene, but with an altered mood and deepened understanding which is the result of the intervening meditation. Abrams' essay has been called a "touchstone of literary criticism". In addition to his poetry, Coleridge also wrote influential pieces of literary criticism including Biographia Literaria , a collection of his thoughts and opinions on literature which he published in The work delivered both biographical explanations of the author's life as well as his impressions on literature.
The collection also contained an analysis of a broad range of philosophical principles of literature ranging from Aristotle to Immanuel Kant and Schelling and applied them to the poetry of peers such as William Wordsworth. Eliot stated that he believed that Coleridge was "perhaps the greatest of English critics, and in a sense the last. However, Eliot also criticises Coleridge for allowing his emotion to play a role in the metaphysical process, believing that critics should not have emotions that are not provoked by the work being studied.
To Kenner, Coleridge's attempt to discuss complex philosophical concepts without describing the rational process behind them displays a lack of critical thinking that makes the volume more of a biography than a work of criticism.
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In Biographia Literaria and his poetry, symbols are not merely "objective correlatives" to Coleridge, but instruments for making the universe and personal experience intelligible and spiritually covalent. To Coleridge, the "cinque spotted spider," making its way upstream "by fits and starts," [Biographia Literaria] is not merely a comment on the intermittent nature of creativity, imagination, or spiritual progress, but the journey and destination of his life. The spider's five legs represent the central problem that Coleridge lived to resolve, the conflict between Aristotelian logic and Christian philosophy.
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Two legs of the spider represent the "me-not me" of thesis and antithesis, the idea that a thing cannot be itself and its opposite simultaneously, the basis of the clockwork Newtonian world view that Coleridge rejected. The remaining three legs—exothesis, mesothesis and synthesis or the Holy trinity—represent the idea that things can diverge without being contradictory. Taken together, the five legs—with synthesis in the center, form the Holy Cross of Ramist logic.
The cinque-spotted spider is Coleridge's emblem of holism, the quest and substance of Coleridge's thought and spiritual life. He comments in his reviews: "Situations of torment, and images of naked horror, are easily conceived; and a writer in whose works they abound, deserves our gratitude almost equally with him who should drag us by way of sport through a military hospital, or force us to sit at the dissecting-table of a natural philosopher. To trace the nice boundaries, beyond which terror and sympathy are deserted by the pleasurable emotions, — to reach those limits, yet never to pass them, hic labor, hic opus est.
Most powerful stimulants, they can never be required except by the torpor of an unawakened, or the languor of an exhausted, appetite We trust, however, that satiety will banish what good sense should have prevented; and that, wearied with fiends, incomprehensible characters, with shrieks, murders, and subterraneous dungeons, the public will learn, by the multitude of the manufacturers, with how little expense of thought or imagination this species of composition is manufactured.
However, Coleridge used these elements in poems such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner , Christabel and Kubla Khan published in , but known in manuscript form before then and certainly influenced other poets and writers of the time. Poems like these both drew inspiration from and helped to inflame the craze for Gothic romance. Coleridge also made considerable use of Gothic elements in his commercially successful play Remorse. Mary Shelley , who knew Coleridge well, mentions The Rime of the Ancient Mariner twice directly in Frankenstein , and some of the descriptions in the novel echo it indirectly.
Although William Godwin , her father, disagreed with Coleridge on some important issues, he respected his opinions and Coleridge often visited the Godwins. Mary Shelley later recalled hiding behind the sofa and hearing his voice chanting The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Lewis also makes mention of his name in The Screwtape Letters as a poor example of prayer, in which the devils should encourage.
Although his father was an Anglican vicar, Coleridge worked as a Unitarian preacher between and He eventually returned to the Church of England in Despite being mostly remembered today for his poetry and literary criticism, Coleridge was also perhaps in his own eyes primarily a theologian. His writings include discussions of the status of scripture, the doctrines of the Fall , justification and sanctification, and the personality and infinity of God.
A key figure in the Anglican theology of his day, his writings are still regularly referred to by contemporary Anglican theologians. Maurice , F. Hort , F. Robertson , B. Coleridge was also a profound political thinker. While he began his life as a political radical, and an enthusiast for the French Revolution; over the years Coleridge developed a more conservative view of society, somewhat in the manner of Burke. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Coleridge disambiguation. This article is about the early 19th-century English poet.
For the late 19th-century British composer, see Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Main article: Early life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Main article: Coleridge and opium. Main article: Conversation poems. Religious conservatism. Christian right Christian fundamentalism Jewish right Islamic fundamentalism Traditionalist Catholic.
National variants. His best known poems are "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and "Kubla Khan," the latter of which was reportedly written under the influence of opium. Coleridge died in We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. In , he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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