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The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Critical Biography Paperback – January 6, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


"A fine addition to the biographical attempt to catch the complex and elusive figure of Coleridge. The volume is notable for its aliveness, its signal success in giving us a living breathing human being." Professor Thomas McFarland, Princeton University

"This book provides the student or general reader with an excellent critical introduction to Coleridge's life and work. Ashton has a gift for elucidating difficult concepts in clear and straightforward language. I can think of no better single volume Coleridge biography." Duncan Wu, University of Glasgow

"This is a stimulating study of a man of many obvious talents." Alan Bold, The Herald

"Ashton writes lucidly, and the book will be accessible to the layman and student as well as useful to the card-carrying Coleridge scholar; it is good, at last, to have a biography one can recommend so highly." Seamus Perry, Times Literary Supplement

"Rosemary Ashton sets store by telling the sheer story. As vitally documented narrative, altogether free from melodrama. The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a deft feat." Christopher Dicks, London Quarterly

"Here is a new biography of Coleridge that is likely to become the standard life of the poet. Rosmary Ashton's The Life of Sammuel Taylor Coleridge: A critical Biography offers a comprehensive and judicious survey of the poet's life and writings. John Strachen University of Sunderland

" Professor Ashton identifies the tangle of abilities and pursuits that ranged from poetry to criticism philosophy to politics, opium-induced imagination to sparkling conversation."

From the Back Cover

Rosemary Ashton’s acclaimed biography presents Samuel Taylor Coleridge – poet, critic, thinker, plagiarist, cultural omnivore, enchanting companion, feckless husband, fabled conversationalist, guilt-ridden opium addict – in all his complexity. Ashton shows how Coleridge’s writings in verse and prose are especially directly expressive of his opinions and emotions and traces his development through friendship and marriage.

An authority on nineteenth-century Anglo-German cultural relations, she maps and measures the profound influence of German philosophy upon Coleridge’s thinking and theorizing in illuminating detail, thus placing Coleridge’s reputation within the context of both British and German Romanticism.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 6, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631207546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631207542
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,533,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Adam Neikirk on October 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
I do not often write reviews for the books I read. I am going out of my way to write a review for Rosemary Ashton's "The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge" in order to effect a warning mainly to anyone who is unfamiliar with the events of Coleridge's life, and who may be considering this book as a way to encounter the personality of the poet. Coleridge produced and consumed a great deal of writing during his life (1772-1834) in the form of poetry, prose, letters, and notebook entries (among other hybrid or quotidian forms). Of course, all we physically have of Coleridge now are these texts; so it is necessary that his biographers gather them up in one place and sequence them (or their derived social/psychological meaning) in a coherent way in order to represent the 'story' of his life. This Ashton's biography does. If you are looking to gather up a sizable portion of Coleridge's writing that is arranged in chronological order, you will find this book meets that purpose. However, if this is all that you are looking for, then my warning is not meant for you (but you may want to read it anyway).

Coleridge is someone of whom it is appropriate to say that to encounter his writing is to encounter his human essence. His poetic style is unique; his prose voice unmistakable. He is also a writer who is led on by tremendous ideas, and this propensity to be carried forth on emotional-intellectual currents contributed great strife to his existence. His life was so many bumps and setbacks, and for many years Coleridge was clutched fatally to the bosom of opium addiction. He suffered much loss, disappointment, ridicule, and dejection. But through it all, his personality swam on, like a critter of the deep, illumined from within by its own eccentric, esoteric cosmological agenda.
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