Samuel Taylor Coleridge Term Paper

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¶ … Samuel Taylor Coleridge

During Samuel Taylor Coleridge's lifetime, the critics were at best dismissive and at worst harsh and cruel. However, as reviewed by scholars in the 20th and 21st centuries, as Suther (1) states, "there seems to be very nearly universal agreement as to Coleridge's intellectual stature: he possessed one of the most agile and comprehensive minds we know of in nineteenth-century England." One reason for this literary acclaim is that 150 years ago, "he was already grappling brilliantly and unsuccessfully with what are still crucial problems of artistic, philosophical, and religious adjustment, problems which few if any of his contemporaries grasped as directly as he did" (Suther 4). Yet, despite his acknowledged writings on nature and religion, his impact on general readers has been considerably less compared to other writers of his time such as Wordsworth, Byron and Shelley. Some believe that this may be due, in part, to the scant writings during his lifetime, as well as the large gap between works.

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His Poems, published in 1797, was well-received and it looked like he was on the fast track to fame. He already had one son, David Hartley Coleridge, born September 1796, followed by Berkeley Coleridge in May 1798. In 1798, the famous Lyrical Ballads was published, including the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." He spent the next 18 years trying to deal with his opium addiction and giving lectures on literature. After a long interval of silence, broken towards the end by the publication of Remorse that proved his depression and opium problems, he suddenly produced half a dozen books. In 1816, Christabel, Kubla Khan, a Vision; the Pains of Sleep appeared and rapidly went through three editions, followed by the Statesman's Manualand in April 1817 by his second Lay Sermon and finally Biographia Literaria.

Term Paper on Samuel Taylor Coleridge During Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Assignment

When Coleridge wrote his first set of poems, there were some that received them relatively well. However, with time, he became more and more ridiculed. His publications Ode on the Departing Year (1796) and the second edition of his Poems (1797) were less accepted than his first works. Reviewers of the Ode agreed that its language was extravagant or affected, but "The Ancient Mariner" was uniformly panned. The Analytical Review (No. 25) described the poem as having "more of the extravagance of a mad german poet, than of the simplicity of our ancient ballad writers," and the Critical Review (No. 26), remarked that "Many of the stanzas are laboriously beautiful, but in connection they are absurd or unintelligible" (Jackson 4). Likewise, even though Coleridge's name is used often in American periodicals of the time, they contain very little direct comment on his writings and he also did not make any immediate impression abroad, which may have been due to European wars.

Lord Byron's inclusion of Coleridge in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809) epitomized the feelings of the times of a decade before, which continued even then.

Shall gentle Coleridge pass unnoticed here,

To turgid ode and tumid stanza dear?

Though themes of innocence amuse him best,

Yet still Obscurity's a welcome guest.

If Inspiration should her aid refuse

To him who takes a Pixy for a muse,

Yet none in lofty numbers can surpass

The bard who soars to elegize an ass:

So well the subject suits his noble mind,

He brays, the Laureate of the long-eared kind. (Jackson 5)

The response to these writings was even more hostile than before, not only about work, but also about his opium habit. However, not too long after he died, there was a resurgence of his works. For example, in 1912 (vii), Coleridge's grandson said that Coleridge had been blamed for "writing so little," for placing metaphysics and theology in the place of poetry and "for winning only to lose the 'prize of his high calling'," and even… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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