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Biographia Literaria

  • Biographia Literaria

This sprawling work from the fluent pen of S T Coleridge was first published in 1817. It began as a preface to a collected volume of his poems, but grew to become a literary autobiog-raphy. Coleridge's philosophical views gain prominence in this work, which also has several chapters on William Wordsworth's theory of poetry. Wordsworth believed that the language of ordinary speech was a proper vehicle for poetry and Coleridge departs from this view. Coleridge held to the concept of genius, which he believed could transcend mere talent, although the boundary between the two was no more than that between "an egg and an egg-shell". He was much influenced by German philosophers, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling in particular, and he presents many of their ideas in this work. Finally, Coleridge adds much to the development of literary criticism and the critical concept of the “willing suspension of disbelief” derives from this book. The original publication was printed in two volumes. This paperback edition is a single volume.