The Ancient Mariner: the Meaning of the Meanings

Jerome J. McGann

in The Beauty of Inflections

Published in print August 1988 | ISBN: 9780198117506
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191670961 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

The Ancient Mariner: the Meaning of the Meanings

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This chapter considers the meaning of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Coleridge's poem that serves as one of the culture's standard texts for introducing students to poetic interpretation. The discussion here has two principal goals: first, to illustrate in a practical way the importance of reception to the exposure of poetic meaning; and second, to show that Coleridge's poem constitutes a profound and conscious embodiment of the philological principles and procedures which the present book is arguing. The groundwork of such a view was laid in the late 18th century, principally in Germany. It is an irony that ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ — a tour de force of the new textual and philological methods — should have its historic meanings erased by the later intrinsic traditions of English and American literary criticism.

Keywords: Germany; Coleridge; poetic interpretation; literary criticism; philological principles

Chapter.  14764 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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