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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O I have had a new world opened to me, in the infinity of my own Spirit! — Woe
be to me, if this last Warning be not taken. l By April 1814, he was ready, as he
told his old friend Joseph Cottle, "to place myself in a private madhouse, where I
... clearly before me the idea of a poet's genius to deem myself other than a very
humble poet; but in the very possession of the idea, I know myself so far a poet as
to feel assured that I can understand and interpret a poem in the spirit of poetry.
Art and taste could reflect the harmony of the larger world, and this refined
reflection or imitation might then be considered "the beautiful". Coleridge took for
granted the opposition of the self ("spirit" or "self-consciousness") and of nature (
... "organs of spirit" by providing them with symbols in concrete form. Coleridge
had been developing the idea, in one guise or another, for fifteen years. The
Biographia was partially a defence of the conduct and opinions such a life
... "all the organs of spirit" that "are framed for a correspondent world of spirit".3 (
These spiritual organs suggest not only reason but the long-established concept
of "inner sense", Leibniz's "sens interne", used by Kant, Schelling, and others.) ...