E491 SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE QUESTIONS

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Assigned: from The Statesman's Manual; from Biographia Literaria (668-82).

From The Statesman's Manual (1816)

1. What is an allegory? Give an example to fill in Coleridge's description on 673.

2. What is a symbol, according to Coleridge -- in what sense is the symbol a fundamental mode of language rather than a mere literary device or figure of speech? Since Coleridge's best example is Jesus' "The eye is the light of the body" (Matthew 6:22), how does that utterance drive home the point? (673)

From Biographia Literaria, Part 1, Chapter 1 (1817)

3. How does Coleridge compare the relative faults and merits of poets before his time and of his contemporaries? (675)

4. What does Coleridge write concerning any poem whose words can be rearranged? What is wrong with such a poem? What method of composition does his observation suggest? (675)

From Biographia Literaria, Part 1, Chapter 4

5. How does Coleridge distinguish "fancy" and "imagination" in this chapter? (675-76)

6. What is "the only way to imitate without loss of originality"? Why? Against what doctrine of imitation is Coleridge writing here? (676)

From Biographia Literaria, Part 1, Chapter 13

7. What is the "primary imagination," according to Coleridge? What affinity between divine creation and human perception does this definition advance? (676)

8. The "secondary imagination" is the creative imagination of the artist. How does Coleridge describe the relationship of this power to the world of objects? How does this kind of imagination differ from "fancy"? (676-77)

From Biographia Literaria, Part 2, Chapter 14

9. On 677-78, what respective tasks did Wordsworth and Coleridge set themselves in agreeing to collaborate on the poems that became Lyrical Ballads? In what sense might those tasks be said to work towards a common goal?

10. On 679-80, what definition of poetry (as opposed to a scientific treatise or ordinary prose) does Coleridge develop partly by way of distinguishing his own poetic theory from that of Wordsworth? On 680 top, what is Coleridge's final definition poetry?

11. On 680, how does Coleridge elaborate on his definition -- what is the relationship of parts to parts in a "legitimate poem"? How does a genuinely satisfactory poem engage the reader's attention with respect to its parts, and with respect to the whole? Why is the mind's progression in reading a poem best described as resembling "the motion of a serpent"?

12. On 681 middle to end, what specific effects does Coleridge suggest flow from the poet's imaginative efforts? Since he believes Wordsworth wields poetic imagination in the highest degree, how does that author's poetry achieve "the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities"? Alternately, how might it be said that his poetry "blends and harmonizes the natural and the artificial" without exalting art over nature?

13. On 681-82, how does the quotation from John Davies' poem Nosce Teipsum reinforce the claims Coleridge has been making in favor of imagination?

Extra, Not in Norton Theory Anthology (from Biographia Literaria, Chapter 17)

14. Coleridge has his disagreements with Wordsworth about poetic language. According to him, why is Wordsworth's much-promoted "low and rustic life" inadequate as a source of the language most proper to poetry? What is wrong with Wordsworth's emphatic use of the word "real" to describe that language? And how is Wordsworth's faith in the effect of strong emotion upon language somewhat misplaced?

15. On the whole, since he rejects the diction of simple country folk, what kind of language does Coleridge suggest ought to inform the best poetry? Why should the words of Richard Hooker, Francis Bacon, or Edmund Burke (or Milton, as in the subsection title) serve the purpose better? (The relevant excerpt for questions 14-15 is in The Norton Anthology of English Lit., 8th ed., Vol. D., 483-85.)

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN 0-393-97429-4.