Biographia Literaria, or, Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 20 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Biographia Literaria, or, Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions.
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Biographia Literaria, or, Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions Summary & Study Guide Description

Biographia Literaria, or, Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Biographia Literaria, or, Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Biographia Literaria by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is the book that Coleridge wanted to write for a long time, examining the relationships between literature and philosophy. The book began as a conversation between Coleridge and his neighbor, William Wordsworth, although the book did not appear for another seventeen years. Coleridge provided the ideas for the Preface to the second edition of Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads and this then was developed into Biographia Literaria, which he dreamed about writing for a long time.

Biographia Literaria is concerned with the form of poetry, the genius of the poet and the relationship to philosophy. Coleridge feels that all of the great writers had their basis in philosophy because philosophy was the sum of all knowledge at this time. All education at that time consisted of a study of philosophy. Coleridge examines issues like the use of language in poetry and how it relates to everyday speech. He looks at the relationship between the subject of poetry and its relationship to everyday life.

Coleridge examines the sources of poetic power which relates to the brilliance of the poet. This involves the use of language, meter, rhyme, and the writing style or the poetic diction. The poet, he feels, should write about subjects that are outside his own sensations and experiences. This is where the poetic genius comes from. If the poet confines his poetry to subjects within his own experiences, then the work is mediocre. Coleridge feels that the purpose of poetry is to communicate beauty and pleasure. This is an expression of the brilliance of the poet.

A great deal of Coleridge's works were the analysis and criticism of other writers. There are many passages from various authors in Biographia Lieteraria and much of the book examines the works of Wordsworth and Shakespeare, both contemporaries of Coleridge, as Coleridge examines the link between literature and philosophy. He also examines the views of Des Cartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, as well as other philosophers. He uses this approach to examine the source of the poet's imagination. The brilliance of the poet must elicit feelings of excitement and emotion in the reader and Coleridge examines how this process functions and why some writers are more popular than others.

Coleridge also addresses the issue of literary critics, some of whom he had problems with regarding his own works. He feels that the critics must find something wrong with a literary work in order to sell reviews. Therefore, many reviews are unfair and the result of personal animosity.

Coleridge accomplishes his goal of examining the relationship between philosophy and literature in this book.

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