The first volume of Richard Holmes’s biography of Coleridge, Coleridge: Early Visions won the 1989 Whitbread Prize for book of the year. Coleridge: Darker Reflections is the long-awaited second volume.
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Coleridge is a great and daring poet. His presence is felt echoing through the English language by anyone who has heard the magical names of 'Kubla Khan' or 'Christabel' or 'The Ancient Mariner'. But he is also an unknown poet, much of whose work has been neglected and whose range and skill has never been properly appreciated. 'The Poet', he once said, 'is the man made to solve the riddle of the Universe.'
Contrary to the legend, Coleridge continued to produce challenging poems for over forty years, and later in life began to make new selections of his work by genre. Now Richard Holmes, Coleridge's prize-winning biographer, follows his example grouping the poetry not chronologically as in most previous selections, but thematically and generically.
Holmes presents one hundred and one poems, each with a detailed critical and biographical note, which together form a new survey of Coleridge's work. In his general introduction, he reviews Coleridge's place in the Romantic Movement, and in a short preface to each section explains Coleridge's originality, his experimental use of language and his imaginative genius in exploring traditional eighteenth-century forms. Holmes's selection gives a fresh and enlarged sense of Coleridge's creative powers and provides a revised approach to the study of Coleridge's poetic development, both for the student and the general reader.
"A great Poet must be… a profound Metaphysician. He may not have it in logical coherence, in his Brain & Tongue; but he must have it by 'Tact': for all sounds & forms of human nature he must have the 'ear' of a wild Arab listening in the silent Desert, the 'eye' of a North American Indian tracing the footsteps of an Enemy upon the Leaves that strew the Forest: the 'touch' of a blind Man feeling the face of a darling Child."
Richard Holmes was born in London in 1945 and educated at Downside School and Churchill College, Cambridge.
In 1974 he published Shelley: The Pursuit which won the Somerset Maugham Award and was described by Stephen Spender as ‘surely the best biography of Shelley ever written’. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 1992 was awarded an OBE.
He lives in London and Norwich with the novelist Rose Tremain.
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002555794