Biographia Literaria, Or, Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions, Part 1
Biographia Literaria has emerged over the last century as a supreme work of literary criticism and one of the classics of English literature. Into this volume poured 20 years of speculation about the criticism and uses of poetry and about the psychology of art. Following the text of the 1817 edition, the editors offer the first completely annotated edition of the highly allusive work.
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... referred to as the "diseases of the imagination", a gross imbalance in the
mediation of self and nature, ending, as its two extremes, in either a sharp self-
concentration, self-delusion, and paralysis or in an equally self-destructive
disregard for ...
... though not equally developed in all, exist in all.3 The poetic or secondary
imagination becomes the fullest exercise of the self and of its inner powers. It is "
the free-will, our only absolute self, that controls and directs the creative activity of
... is not equally heightened. In poetry the reader is carried forward "not merely or
chiefly by the mechanical impulse of curiosity, or by a restless desire to arrive at
the final solution; but by the pleasurable activity of mind excited by the attractions
Near the close of this remarkable and long paragraph comes the equally famous
remark that he regards truth "as a divine ventriloquist".1 Coleridge veers a
delicate, an almost contradictory course; he appears at once to give a great deal
The sources of his borrowings, acknowledged and unacknowledged, are mixed.
And the forms of the borrowings (translations, paraphrase, summary, terms
adopted, ideas echoed) are equally mixed. Given all the works and several ways