Biographia Literaria

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CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Apr 16, 2017 - 458 pages
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Samuel Taylor Coleridge intended Biographia Literaria to be a short preface to a collection of his poems, Sibylline Leaves (1817). However, it quickly expanded into a two-volume autobiography, mixing memoir, philosophy, religion and literary theory, and was heavily influenced by German criticism, the evaluation and interpretation of literature. Coleridge himself described Biographia Literaria as an 'immethodical miscellany' of 'life and opinions'. In 1906, the poet Arthur Symons called the work 'the greatest book of criticism in English, and one of the most annoying books in any language'. Poetic theory in Biographia Literaria Biographia Literaria includes some of the most important English writing on poetic theory. Some of it is a response to ideas of poetry advanced by his close friend and collaborator William Wordsworth, first in the 1800 preface to their joint publication Lyrical Ballads and then in the preface to Wordsworth's Collected Poems (1815). Referring to the latter, Coleridge says he wants in Biographia Literaria to make clear 'on what points I coincide with the opinions in that preface, and in what points I altogether differ'.

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About the author (2017)

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.

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