Poetical Works, Volume 2

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Princeton University Press, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 1439 pages
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Poetry in its many guises is at the center of Coleridge's multifarious interests, and this long-awaited new edition of his complete poetical works marks the pinnacle of the Bollingen Collected Coleridge. The three parts of Volume 16 confirm and expand the sense of the Coleridge who has emerged over the past half-century, with implications for English Romantic writing as a whole. Setting new standards of comprehensiveness in the presentation of Romantic texts, they will interest historians and editorial theorists, as well as readers and students of poetry. They represent a work of truly monumental importance.

The second part presents the same 706 poems as the first, in the same chronological sequence, but differently records in each case all known textual information in collated form--allowing for alternative construals of the reading texts. An additional 135 items are inserted into the same sequence, comprising poems mistakenly ascribed to Coleridge or of dubious authenticity and poems that remained only in the planning stage or that are referred to but have not been recovered. The index of titles and first lines incorporates the full range of variants.

All told, the Collected Coleridge variorum sequence collates over a third more additional texts--in more detailed and accurate form--than those found in the previous standard edition, by E.H. Coleridge. The presentation method in this second part will interest editorial theorists as well as those interested primarily in Coleridge and/or the making of poetry. The unusually detailed textual information also reveals changes in such areas as linguistic and grammatical usage, patterns of transcription and circulation among anthologists, and contemporary publishers' house styles.

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Epigram to a Critic Who Extracted a Passage from a Poem

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About the author (2001)

Born in Ottery St. Mary, England, in 1772, Samuel Taylor Coleridge studied revolutionary ideas at Cambridge before leaving to enlist in the Dragoons. After his plans to start a communist society in the United States with his friend Robert Southey, later named poet laureate of England, were botched, Coleridge instead turned his attention to teaching and journalism in Bristol. Coleridge married Southey's sister-in-law Sara Fricker, and they moved to Nether Stowey, where they became close friends with William and Dorothy Wordsworth. From this friendship a new poetry emerged, one that focused on Neoclassic artificiality. In later years, their relationship became strained, partly due to Coleridge's moral collapse brought on by opium use, but more importantly because of his rejection of Wordworth's animistic views of nature. In 1809, Coleridge began a weekly paper, The Friend, and settled in London, writing and lecturing. In 1816, he published Kubla Kahn. Coleridge reported that he composed this brief fragment, considered by many to be one of the best poems ever written lyrically and metrically, while under the influence of opium, and that he mentally lost the remainder of the poem when he roused himself to answer an ill-timed knock at his door. Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and his sonnet Ozymandias are all respected as inventive and widely influential Romantic pieces. Coleridge's prose works, especially Biographia Literaria, were also broadly read in his day. Coleridge died in 1834.

Mays is Head of the English Department, University of Dublin.

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