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Biographia Literaria


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A work of philosophical autobiography and Romantic criticism, by S. T. Coleridge, published 1817. Part I is broadly autobiographical describing Coleridge's friendship with Southey and with the Wordsworths at Stowey, and going on to trace his struggle with the ‘dynamic philosophy’ of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling in Germany. The humorous narrative is gradually overwhelmed by Romantic metaphysics; ch. XIII contains his famous distinction between Fancy and Imagination. Part II is almost entirely critical, attacking Wordsworth's preface to the Lyrical Ballads and then marvellously vindicating the poetry itself. Coleridge concentrates on the psychology of the creative process, and propounds new theories of the origins of poetic language, metre, and form, as the interpenetration of ‘passion and will’ (chs. XV–XVIII). Other chapters discuss the poetry of Shakespeare, Milton, Daniel, G. Herbert, etc., as exemplary of true ‘Imagination’ and the ‘language of real life’.

Subjects: Literature.


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Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772—1834) poet, critic, and philosopher


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