Coleridge, Form and Symbol: Or The Ascertaining Vision, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Coleridge, Form and Symbol

Or The Ascertaining Vision, 1st Edition

By Nicholas Reid


202 pages

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Hardback: 9780754653271
pub: 2006-01-28
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In his convincingly argued book, Nicholas Reid shows just how central Coleridge's theories of imagination, form, and symbol were to Coleridge's metaphysics. What distinguishes Reid's book is the admirable way he takes up the thorny issues of perception and image, and their relation to language, and makes successful use of both cognitive science and recent philosophical writings to show the continuing relevance of Coleridge's views. Reid draws on recent work in the theory of mind by Damasio, Lakoff, and others, and also goes back to the work of Susanne Langer and L. A. Reid, to demonstrate the centrality of concrete form for Coleridge, giving an integrated account of Coleridge's theory (including terms like 'symbol' and 'organic form') and also situating these central Coleridgean concerns within a contemporary realist and non-theistic aesthetic. In addition, he offers a clear account of Schelling's place in the development of Coleridge's thinking. Reid's interdisciplinary approach will make this book invaluable not only to Coleridge specialists but also to students and scholars concerned generally with the history of philosophy, psychology, religion, and literature.


'This book will absorb every Coleridgean and anyone interested in the history of ideas, philosophy, and religion. Its scrupulous attention to the twists and leaps of Coleridge's thought, especially in the last two decades of his life, offers rewards at every turn. The range of Reid's study opens up Coleridge anew.' James Engell, co-editor of Biographia Literaria for the Collected Works of Coleridge, Gurney Professor of English Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University, USA ’… intriguing examination of Coleridge's metaphysics and his theories of the imagination, symbol, and form. What is especially refreshing about Reid's study is how it situates the relevance of Coleridgean concepts and thought within contemporary ciritical theory… Throughout Reid writes in a clear and direct style that highlights his vast knowledge of Coleridge and contemporary critical theory. The topical rubrics in the chapters are both a practical and informative aid for the reader… The scope of this intriguing book is ambitious, and Reid convincingly argues, challenges, and raises the reader's awareness of Coleridgean metaphysics, critical theory, and the history of ideas, in a manner sure to stimulate future debate.’ Romantic Textualities ’Nicholas Reid's study is a welcome addition to the scholarship on Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Reid integrates the early poet with the later theorist and metaphysician, and this is a rare accomplishment. His study achieves a distinctly Coleridgean spirit in its versatile consideration of aesthetics, phenomenology, metaphysics, literary theory, and poetry.’ The Journal of Religion

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction. Part I Image and Form: 'That eternal language'; or why Coleridge was right about imaging and meaning; Form in Coleridge; and in perception and art. Part II Coleridge's Poetry: 'The Ancient Mariner'; The conversation poems; Coleridge, Akenside and the platonic tradition: reading in The Pleasures of Imagination. Part III Coleridgean Metaphysics: The transcendental deduction: Schelling, and Coleridge's response; The satanic principle in the later Coleridge's theory of imagination; Coleridge, Language and the imagination; Art and the medium: 'On poesy or art' and the 'essay on method'; Works cited; Index.

About the Author

Nicholas Reid was a senior lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand, where he taught for twelve years.

About the Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series aims to develop and promote new approaches and fresh directions in scholarship and criticism on nineteenth-century literature and culture. The series encourages work which erodes the traditional boundary between Romantic and Victorian studies and welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to the literary, religious, scientific and visual cultures of the period. While British literature and culture are the core subject matter of monographs and collections in the series,  the editors encourage proposals which explore the wider, international contexts of nineteenth-century literature – transatlantic, European and global.  Print culture, including studies in the newspaper and periodical press, book history, life writing and gender studies are particular strengths of this established series as are high quality single author studies.  The series also embraces research in the field of digital humanities. The editors invite proposals from both younger and established scholars in all areas of nineteenth-century literary studies. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature