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A Book I Value: Selected Marginalia

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Coleridge is such a celebrity that many who have never read "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" have a fair idea who he was, and yet the common impression of him is not flattering. He is typically seen as a youthful genius transformed by drugs and philosophy into a tedious sage. It is time for a change of image. A Book I Value offers a one-volume sampling of Coleridge's encyclopedic marginalia, revealing a figure more complex but also more humanly attractive—clever, curious, ...

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Overview

Coleridge is such a celebrity that many who have never read "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" have a fair idea who he was, and yet the common impression of him is not flattering. He is typically seen as a youthful genius transformed by drugs and philosophy into a tedious sage. It is time for a change of image. A Book I Value offers a one-volume sampling of Coleridge's encyclopedic marginalia, revealing a figure more complex but also more humanly attractive—clever, curious, playful, intense—than the one we are used to.

This book makes a convenient introduction to Coleridge's life, the intellectual issues and contemporary concerns that held his attention, and the workings of his mind. The marginalia represent an unintimidating sort of writing that Coleridge famously excelled at (often in books borrowed from friends). "A book, I value," he wrote, "I reason & quarrel with as with myself when I am reasoning."

Unlike the complete Marginalia in six volumes arranged alphabetically by author, this representative selection is chronological and footnote-free, with a contextualizing introduction and brief headnotes that outline Coleridge's circumstances year by year and provide essential historical information. Our own cultural taboo against writing in books is slackening in light of new interest in the history of the book. It will be weakened further by the extraordinary and now accessible example of Coleridge, who was a remarkably shrewd but at the same time a remarkably charitable reader.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement
Jackson intends her selection to serve as an introduction to the great Coleridgean themes, and it succeeds very well. . . . [Her] selection is excellent; it is where readers new to the marginalia should start.
— Seamus Perry
The Guardian
You might be forgiven for wondering what wide appeal there is in a book which selects the marginal jottings of a long-dead poet. . . . I have found myself turning to it again and again, first in the manner of a commonplace book, and then—for this is how the book is arranged—as a chronological record of the development of Coleridge's thoughts. And these are almost always worth reading. . . . The book becomes, then, a kind of sideways intellectual autobiography, a dossier of immediate response, scrupulous honesty or honest bewilderment.
— Nicholas Lezard
The Guardian - Nicholas Lezard
You might be forgiven for wondering what wide appeal there is in a book which selects the marginal jottings of a long-dead poet. . . . I have found myself turning to it again and again, first in the manner of a commonplace book, and then—for this is how the book is arranged—as a chronological record of the development of Coleridge's thoughts. And these are almost always worth reading. . . . The book becomes, then, a kind of sideways intellectual autobiography, a dossier of immediate response, scrupulous honesty or honest bewilderment.
Times Literary Supplement - Seamus Perry
Jackson intends her selection to serve as an introduction to the great Coleridgean themes, and it succeeds very well. . . . [Her] selection is excellent; it is where readers new to the marginalia should start.
From the Publisher
"You might be forgiven for wondering what wide appeal there is in a book which selects the marginal jottings of a long-dead poet. . . . I have found myself turning to it again and again, first in the manner of a commonplace book, and then—for this is how the book is arranged—as a chronological record of the development of Coleridge's thoughts. And these are almost always worth reading. . . . The book becomes, then, a kind of sideways intellectual autobiography, a dossier of immediate response, scrupulous honesty or honest bewilderment."—Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

"Jackson intends her selection to serve as an introduction to the great Coleridgean themes, and it succeeds very well. . . . [Her] selection is excellent; it is where readers new to the marginalia should start."—Seamus Perry, Times Literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691113173
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 2/18/2003
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Read an Excerpt

A Book I Value

Selected Marginalia
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Princeton University Press

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0691113513


Chapter One


MARGINALIA

1801

Immanuel Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft [Critique of Pure Reason], Leipzig, 1799.

The works of Kant were of the profoundest influence upon Coleridge, who memorably described them as having taken possession of him "as with a giant's hand" when he was a young man; he goes on to say, in Biographia Literaria, that "after fifteen years familiarity with them, I still read these and all his other productions with undiminished delight and increasing admiration." The following notes from Coleridge's first reading of the Critique of Pure Reason date from about 1801.

An aeolian or eolian harp is a stringed box that is left out of doors or in a window to make music as the wind passes over the strings. "Linley" is a reference to Thomas Linley the Younger, a celebrated violinist; "mind's eye" is a phrase from Hamlet 1.2.185; Fichte was one of the two or three most important successors to Kant in the next generation.

[# 1] Doubts during a first perusal-i.e. Struggles felt, not arguments objected.

1. How can that be called ein mannigfaltiges fold], which yet contains in itself the ground, why I apply one category to it rather than another? one mathematicalform and not another? The mind does not resemble an Eolian Harp, nor even a barrel-organ turned by a stream of water, conceive as many tunes mechanized in it as you like-but rather, as far as Objects are concerned, a violin, or other instrument of few strings yet vast compass, played on by a musician of Genius. The Breeze that blows across the Eolian Harp, the streams that turned the handle of the Barrel Organ, might be called ein mannigfaltiges [a manifold], a mere sylva incondita [unformed matter], but who would call the muscles and purpose of Linley a confused Manifold?

[# 2] The perpetual and unmoving Cloud of Darkness, that hangs over this Work to my "mind's eye", is the absence of any clear account of-was ist Erfahrung [what is experience]? What do you mean by a fact, an empiric Reality, which alone can give solidity (inhalt [content]) to our Conceptions?-It seems from many passages, that this indispensible Test is itself previously manufactured by this very conceptive Power-and that the whole not of our own making is the mere sensation of a mere Manifold-in short, mere influx of motion, to use a physical metaphor.-I apply the Categoric forms to a Tree-well! but first what is this tree? How do I come by this Tree?-Fichte I understand very well-only I cannot believe his System. But Kant I do not understand-i.e. I have not discovered what he proposes for my Belief.-Is it Dogmatism?-Why then make the opposition between Phaenomena and Things in themselves-~[things that really exist]? Is it Idealism? What Test then can I find in the different modifications of my Being to verify and substantiate each other? What other distinction between Schein and Erscheinung, Illusion and Appearance more than the old one of-in one I dream to myself, and in the other I dream in common: The Man in a fever is only outvoted by his Attendants-He does not see their Dream, and they do not see his.

1803

Robert Anderson, ed., The Works of the British Poets, Edinburgh and London, 1792-95.

Coleridge wrote notes in three different sets of Anderson's popular anthology. This set is unusual in containing notes by William Wordsworth as well; in fact, in the example given, Coleridge's note begins as a comment on an earlier note by Wordsworth, written at the end of the section devoted to Shakespeare's sonnets. The book belonged to Coleridge, but he expected that his brother-in-law and housemate Robert Southey, whom he mentions, would be reading his notes, and that his own son Hartley, whom he addresses directly, would one day inherit the set.

"Potter's Antiquities" was a common schoolbook, John Potter's Archaeologia Graeca: or the Antiquities of Greece; Coleridge mentions specifically a chapter about the Greeks'"Love of Boys" which maintains that there was nothing sexual about it. "Johnson" means the playwright Ben Jonson, whom Coleridge frequently uses, as here, along with Beaumont and Fletcher and Massinger, as a more or less contemporary point of comparison with Shakespeare.

[#3.]

[Wordsworth's note:] These sonnets, beginning at 127, to his Mistress, are worse than a puzzle-peg. They are abominably harsh obscure & worthless. The others are for the most part much better, have many fine lines very fine lines & passages. They are also in many places warm with passion. Their chief faults, and heavy ones they are, are sameness, tediousness, quaintness, & elaborate obscurity.-

With exception of the Sonnets to his Mistress (& even of these the expressions are unjustly harsh) I can by no means subscribe to the above pencil mark of W. Wordsworth; which however, it is my wish, should never be erased. It is his: & grievously am I mistaken, & deplorably will Englishmen have degenerated, if the being his will not, in times to come, give it a Value, as of a little reverential Relict-the rude mark of his Hand left by the Sweat of Haste in a St Veronica Handkerchief! And Robert Southey! My sweet Hartley! if thou livest, thou wilt not part with this Book without sad necessity & a pang at Heart. O be never weary of repe-rusing the four first Volumes of this Collection, my eldest born!-To day thou art to be christened, being more than 7 years of age, o with what reluctance & distaste have I permitted this unchristian, & in its spirit & consequences anti-christian, Foolery to be performed upon thee, Child of free Nature. On thy Brother Derwent, & thy Sister Sara, somewhat; but chiefly on thee. These Sonnets then, I trust, if God preserve thy Life, Hartley! thou wilt read with a deep Interest, having learnt to love the Plays of Shakespere, co-ordinate with Milton, and subordinate only to thy Bible. To thee, I trust, they will help to explain the mind of Shakespere, & if thou wouldst understand these Sonnets, thou must read the Chapter in Potter's Antiquities on the Greek Lovers-of whom were that Theban Band of Brothers, over whom Philip, their victor, stood weeping; & surveying their dead bodies, each with his Shield over the Body of his Friend, all dead in the place where they fought, solemnly cursed those, whose base, fleshly, & most calumnious Fancies had suspected their Love of Desires against Nature. This pure Love Shakespere appears to have felt-to have been no way ashamed of it-or even to have suspected that others could have suspected it/ yet at the same time he knew that so strong a Love would have been made more compleatly a Thing of Permanence & Reality, & have been blessed more by Nature & taken under her more especial protection, if this Object of his Love had been at the same Time a possible Object of Desire/ for Nature is not bad only-in this Feeling, he must have written the 20th Sonnet, but its possibility seems never to have entered even his Imagination. It is noticeable, that not even an Allusion to that very worst of all possible Vices (for it is wise to think of the Disposition, as a Vice, not of the absurd & despicable Act, as a crime) not even any allusion to it in all his numerous Plays-whereas Johnson, Beaumont & Fletcher, & Massinger are full of them. O my Son! I pray fervently that thou may'st know inwardly how impossible it was for a Shakespere not to have been in his heart's heart chaste. I see no elaborate obscurity & very little quaintness-nor do I know any Sonnets that will bear such frequent reperusal: so rich in metre, so full of Thought & exquisitest Diction.
          T. Coleridge, Greta Hall, Keswick, Wed. morning,
          1/2 past 3, Nov. 2. 1803.

1804

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, The Emperor Marcus Antoninus His Conversation with Himself . . . To which is added The Mythological Picture of Cebes the Theban, trans. Jeremy Collier, London, 1701.

The earliest notes in this volume appear to have been written aboard the ship Speedwell when Coleridge went to Malta in the spring of 1804, but he returned to the book later-in 1808, 1811, 1818-19, and 1826. [# 4]

That Remedies were prescrib'd me in a Dream, against Giddiness, and Spitting of Blood; As I remember, it happen'd both at Cajeta, and Chrysa. . . .

I am not convinced that this is mere Superstition. Providence is at once general & particular/ there is doubtless a sort of divining power in man/ Sensations awaken Thoughts congruous to them. I could say much on this Subject. A Gentleman told Dr Beddoes a remarkable Dream: the Dr immediately examined his pulse, &c &c, bled him &c-and it was evident that in a day or two he would otherwise have had an apoplectic Fit. My Father had a similar Dream 3 nights together before his Death, while he appeared to himself in full & perfect Health-He was blest by God with sudden Death. That was the only part of our Liturgy, which he objected to/ the prayer against sudden Death.

[# 5]

Therefore don't forget the Saying of Heraclitus; That the Earth dies intoWater, Water into Air, Air into Fire, and so Backward.

Expressed in the present chemical nomenclature/ Solids by increased repulsion of their parts become fluids, by a still greater repulsion aeriform Gasses, and it is possible that these may all be resolvible into imponderable & igniform natures, Light, Electricity, Magnetism, Heat-& that all these four may be but detachments of one & same substance-the plastic Fire of the ancients-in different proportions of repulsion & attraction in se [in itself], acting on other proportions-Then to comprehend attraction & Repulsion as one power is perhaps the point of the Pyramid of physical Science.

[# 6]

[From "The Picture of Cebes":] Resumptions are very common with this Lady [Fortune], and there's no depending upon her Favour; And therefore the Genius advises People to be loose and indifferent with her, and neither be transported when she gives, nor dejected when she takes away. For she never acts upon Reason, but throws out every thing at Peradventure. Therefore the Rule is never to be surpriz'd at any of her Proceedings. . . .

This is the most defective Passage of the whole Treatise. It is not true, and it is of pernicious consequence, to represent Fortune as wholly mad, blind, deaf, and drunk. On the average each man receives what he pays forthe miser gives care & self-torment, and receives increase of Gold-the vain give clamour, & bustle, pretensions & flattery, & receive a Buz-the Wise man Self-conquest & neighbourly Love, and receives sense of Dignity, of Harmony, and Content. Each is paid in sort-Virtue is not rewarded by Wealth, nor is the Eye affected by Sound.

Johann Gottfried Herder, Kalligone, Leipzig, 1800.

This work on aesthetics attacks Kant's analysis of the sublime in the Critique of Judgment; the other works that Coleridge refers to also attack aspects of Kant's philosophy to a greater or lesser extent. "Philosophism," merging "philosophy" and "sophism," could be applied to any false system of thought but was commonly applied especially to eighteenth-century French rationalism by its enemies.

[# 7] Dec. 19. 1804. Malta.-And thus the Book impressed me, to wit, as being Rant, abuse, drunken Self-conceit that kicking and sprawling in the 6 inch-deep Gutter of muddy Philosophism from the drainings of a hundred Sculleries dreams that he is swimming in an ocean of the Translucent & the Profound/-I never read a more disgusting Work, scarcely so disgusting a one except the Metacritik [Metacritique of the Critique of Pure Reason] of the same Author. I always even in the perusal of his better works, the Verm. Blätter, the Briefe das Stud. Theol. betreffends and the Ideen zur Gesch. der Mensch. [Miscellaneous Papers, Letters Concerning the Study of Theology, and Ideas Towards a Philosophy of the History of Mankind] thought him a painted Mist with no sharp outline-but this is mere Steam from a Heap of Mans dung.-

[# 8] Herder mistakes for the SUBLIME sometimes the GRAND, sometimes the MAJESTIC, and sometimes the INTENSE: in which last sense we must render a [. . .] or magnificent, but as a Whole, (a visual Whole, I mean) it cannot be sublime. A mountain in a cloudless sky, its summit smit with the Sunset is a beautiful, a magnificent Object-the same with its Summit hidden by Clouds, & seemingly blended with the Sky, while mists & floating Vapors of [. . .] (Continues...)



Excerpted from A Book I Value by Samuel Taylor Coleridge Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1801
Immanuel Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft 3
1803
Robert Anderson, ed., The Works of the British Poets 5
1804
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, The Emperor Marcus Antoninus His Conversation with Himself 7
Johann Gottfried Herder, Kalligone 8
1807
Aulus Persius Flaccus, Satirarum liber 10
Andrew Fuller, The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined and Compared 10
Patrick Colquhoun, A Treatise on Indigence 13
William Hayley, Life of Milton 14
Robert Percival, An Account of the Island of Ceylon 17
Edward Stillingfleet, Origines Sacrae 18
Robert Anderson, ed., The Works of the British Poets 20
Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion 21
George Lyttelton, The History of the Life of King Henry the Second 22
1808
Samuel Daniel, Poetical Works 24
John Milton, A Complete Collection of the ... Miscellaneous Works 25
Jakob Boehme, Works 27
1809
Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici 34
John Barclay, Argenis 36
Jonathan Swift, Works 37
1810
James Sedgwick, Hints to the Public and the Legislature 39
Immanuel Kant, Vermischte Schriften 43
1811
Richard Baxter, Reliquiae Baxterianae 45
Jeremy Taylor, A Collection of Polemicall Discourses 46
John Donne, Poems 53
1812
Baruch Spinoza, Opera 54
Johann Gottfried Eichhorn, Einleitung in das Neue Testament 55
William Shakespeare, Works 56
1813
Moses Mendelssohn, Morgenstunden 59
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, System des transcendentalen Idealismus 60
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Sammtliche Schriften 62
Robert Robinson, Miscellaneous Works 63
1814
Robert Leighton, The Expository Works and Other Remains 65
Robert Southey, Joan of Arc, an Epic Poem 66
The Quarterly Review 68
Samuel Parr, A Spital Sermon 70
Richard Field, Of the Church 71
1815
Encyclopaedia Londinensis 73
Ben Jonson, Dramatic Works 74
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Die Bestimmung des Menschen 75
1816
Johann Gottfried Herder, Von der Auferstehung 77
Henry Fielding, Tom Jones 77
John Reynolds, The Triumphes of Gods Revenge 79
1817
Hans Christian Oersted, Ansicht der chemischen Naturgesetze 84
William Shakespeare, Dramatic Works 84
1818
Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, Dramatic Works 98
Jean Paul Richter, Museum von Jean Paul 99
Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger, Philosophische Gesprache 100
Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann, Geschichte der Philosophie 101
Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert, Ansichten von der Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaft 106
1819
Martin Luther, Colloquia Mensalia 108
Johann Heinrich Jung, Theorie der Geister-Kunde 114
Bryan Waller Procter, Dramatic Scenes and Other Poems 115
Thomas Gray, Works 116
John Webster, The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft 117
Emanuel Swedenborg, De coelo et ejus mirabilibus, et de inferno, ex auditis et visis 120
1820
Robert Southey, The Life of Wesley 125
Richard Baxter, Reliquiae Baxterianae 131
Robert Leighton, Genuine Works 137
Emanuel Swedenborg, True Christian Religion 139
Lorenz Oken, Lehrbuch der Naturgeschichte 140
John Petvin, Letters Concerning Mind 141
1821
Emanuel Swedenborg, Prodromus philosophiae ratiocinantis 144
1823
Pierre Jurieu, The History of the Council of Trent 147
Heinrich Steffens, Caricaturen des Heilgsten 148
John Howie, Biographia Scoticana 150
John Milton, Poems upon Several Occasions 153
Henry More, Theological Works 158
Eternal Punishment Proved to Be Not Suffering, But Privation 160
1824
William Wordsworth, "Translation of Virgil's Aeneid Book I" 162
George Herbert, The Temple 163
1825
Daniel Waterland, A Vindication of Christ's Divinity 164
Wilhelm Martin Leberecht De Wette, Theodor 165
Eikon Basilike 167
Sir Walter Scott, Novels and Tales 168
Sir Walter Scott, Historical Romances 170
Sir Walter Scott, Novels and Romances 171
Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, A Critical Essay on the Gospel of St. Luke 174
Samuel Papys, Memoirs 179
Heinrich Steffens, Ueber die Idee der Universitaten 182
Richard Hokker, Works 184
The Holy Bible 188
1827
Georg August Goldfuss, Handbuch der Zoologie 190
Samuel Noble, An Appeal in Behalf of the Views of the Eternal World and State 191
Manuel Lacunza y Diaz, The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty 193
Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert, Allgemeine Naturgeschichte 197
Jacob Rhenferd, Opera philologica 198
Claude Fleury, Ecclesiastical History 199
Joannes Scotus Erigena, De divisione naturae 199
1828
Henrich Steffens, Anthropologie 202
John Asgill, A Collection of Tracts 202
Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus, Das Leben Jesu 203
Edward Irving, Sermons, Lectures, and Occasional Discourses 207
1829
The Quarterly Journal of Foreign Medicine and Surgery 213
Johann Gottfried Eichhorn, Einleitung in das Neue Testament 216
1830
Daniel Defoe, The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe 217
Robert Vaughan, The Life and Opinions of John de Wycliffe 217
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress 220
Esaias Tegner, Die Frithiofs-Sage 220
1831
"Vindex," The Conduct of the British Governement 223
John Donne, Eighty Sermons 224
1832
John James Park: Dogmas of the Constitution 226
John James Park: Conservative Reform 226
1833
Samuel Johnson, Works 228
Analysis of the Report of a Committee 231
Apocalypsis graece 232
1834
John Kenyon, Rhymed Plea for Tolerance 234
Robert Southey, The Doctor 235
Daniel Sandford, Remains 236
Index 237
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