Coleridge : Early Visions

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9780002555760: Coleridge : Early Visions

The first volume of Richard Holmes’s two-volume biography of Coleridge, which won the 1989 Whitbread Prize for book of the year and which transforms our view of this greatest of Romantic poets.

Coleridge: Early Visions is the first part of a major new biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge which will transform our view of the poet of ‘Kubla Khan’ and his place in the Romantic Movement.

Dismissed by much recent scholarship as an opium addict, plagiarist, political apostate and mystic charlatan, Richard Holmes’s Coleridge leaps out of the page as a brilliant, animated and endlessly provoking figure who invades the imagination.

This is an act of biographical recreation which brings back to life the poetry, Coleridge’s encyclopaedic thought, his creative energy and physical presence. He is vivid and unexpected.

Holmes draws the reader into the labyrinthine complications of his subject’s personality and literary power, and faces us with profound questions about the nature of creativity, the relations between sexuality and friendship, the shifting grounds of political and religious belief.

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Review:

‘Dazzling… Holmes has not merely reinterpreted Coleridge; he has re-created him, and his biography has the aura of fiction, the shimmer of an authentic portrait… a biography like few I have ever read.’
James Wood, Guardian

‘A deeply moving life of a troubled genius. From a great mountain of research, Holmes has fashioned a compelling narrative which inspires considerable affection and respect for Coleridge. This stimulating book is one of the most enjoyable biographies I have read.’
Michael Sheldon, Daily Telegraph

‘Coleridge lives, and talks and loves… in these pages as never before.’
Michael Foot, Independent

From the Publisher:

some excerpts from the British reviews:
‘Coleridge lives and talks and loves… in these pages as never before.’ MICHAEL FOOT, Independent

‘A deeply moving life of a troubled genius. Holmes has fashioned a compelling narrative which inspires considerable affection and respect for Coleridge. This stimulating book is one of the most enjoyable biographies I have read.’ MICHAEL SHELDEN, Daily Telegraph

‘If Coleridge does not leap out of these pages – brilliant, animated, endlessly provoking – and invade your imagination (as he has done mine), then I have failed to do him justice’ Richard Holmes has pursued his subject from the archives of the British Museum to the potholes of Devon and the peaks of the Hartz Mountains. This first (Whitbread prize-winning) volume of his biography transforms our view of the poet of ‘Kubla Khan’, best friend to Wordsworth, forever. Holmes brings back to life not only Coleridge’s poetry and his encyclopaedic thought, but also all his creative energy and physical presence, the very sound of his voice, his fantastic mixture of stormy ebullience and anxious self-doubt. The Romantic writer who emerges is an unforgettably vivid and unexpected figure. Coleridge: Early Visions offers a true portrait of unfolding genius, one that will echo in your mind, long after closing the book.

‘As an act of biographical re-creation, with the ghost of Coleridge hovering over the pages it seems to me nothing short of a masterpiece.’ IAN THOMPSON, Listener

‘Beautifully written and sympathetic… Holmes’ book adds to our sense of Coleridge’s greatnes, is informed by love and humour as well as research; and rises to a climax of narrative writing in the last chapters, in which you feel he has reached into the soul of his subject as every biographer hopes to, but few actually do.’ CLAIRE TOMALIN, Observer

‘Dazzling… Holmes has not merely reinterpreted Coleridge; he has recreated him, and his biography has the aura of fiction, the shimmer of an authentic portrait… a biography like few I have ever read.’ JAMES WOOD, Guardian

‘The first volume makes one impatient for the second. Holmes writes with wry empathy and sure scholarship of his wayward hero.’ GEORGE STEINER, Sunday Times, Books of the Year

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