Biographia Literaria

Front Cover
Waking Lion Press, Nov 10, 2023 - Biography & Autobiography - 358 pages

"The primary Imagination I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM." -Samuel Taylor Coleridge


In his Biographia Literaria, Coleridge explains his theory of poetry as a creation of the "self-sufficing power of absolute Genius," which he claimed was as different from talent as "an egg [from] an egg-shell." Fusing autobiography, literary criticism, and religious and philosophical theory, Biographia Literaria is a supreme work of literary criticism and one of the classics of English literature.

Coleridge insisted on sound sense and clear reference in phrase, metaphor, and image. He discouraged literary "embroidery," along with conventional similes and stale poetic diction, aiming to write in natural language that spoke to the heart as well as the intellect. Critical of the rhetorical excesses in poetry of the time, he joined Wordsworth in promoting "natural thoughts with natural diction."

Biographia Literaria was the most important work of literary criticism of the English Romantic period, combining philosophy and literary criticism in a new way. It remains an incomparable source of informed reflection on the brave new literary world whose birth pangs Coleridge attended.

This edition, newly designed and typeset, includes the complete text (originally published in two volumes) along with all of Coleridge's voluminous explanatory footnotes. It is printed on acid-free, archival-quality paper with a hardback case-laminate binding for long life and durability.

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