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HUMANITIES "9 this simple truth; but who - outside the earnest ranks of 'Romanticists' ever believed that poetry of any value could be written by persons practising a 'wilful blindness'? In the interpretation of actual works Rajan, perhaps because her thinking is haunted by the ghost of a hypothetical 'naive' poet, sometimes assumes a lack ofadequate critical consciousness in the poet. Of Keats she writes, for example: 'The Eve of St. Agnes' has its place in the process of reassessment that leads Keats toward a new typology of creative artists: one which recognizes that the gods ... are immune from experience, but that those who attempt to reproduce such innocence in the human sphere are merely fanatics who have refused to risk their dreams in the real world. But the poem seems sentimentally unwilling to commit itseli to so radical a revision of its sense of what poetry is. (P 113) The dream of joy in 'The Eve of St. Agnes' is set in an iron frame of death, and the ultimate cold; it is gratuitous to suppose that the poem has a 'sense of what poetry is' that forbids us to read it as the expression of an adult consciousness - or that Keats had any such limiting 'sense' of the nature of poetry. Rajan seems to refuse to Keats the kind of critical intelligence she somewhat grudgingly grants to Wordsworth, perhaps because in this instance the thesis about 'Romanticism' is given more weight. General propositions about very various works of literature usually become difficult to sustain when each work is closely looked at, and this book is no exception. It does however show genuine powers of discrimination and of resistance to its own abstractions. (GEOFFREY DURRANT) Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Marginalia I. Edited by George Whalley Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Vol 12 Routledge & Kegan Paul l Princeton University Press. clxxiv, 879, $60.00 This massive volume heralds four more; it contains editorial front matter and the marginalia from authors and books A-B in an alphabetical scheme. A typical presentation gives as headnote: the author and his dates; the title of the book annotated; its present whereabouts, or a statement that it is not located; a general description of the book; a history of its ownership and provenance; dates or conjectured dates of the annotations. The text annotated is presented in appropriate extracts printed in black; Coleridge 's annotation follows each extract and is printed in brown. Textual notes explain, where necessary, the layout of the annotations, and provide occasional editorial emendations; a generous commentary completes the presentation. Translations are provided, both for Coleridge and for the author annotated, where the language in use is not English. The Coleridgean matter is, of course, taken usually from Coleridge's manuscript in the books concerned; sometimes it is derived from secondary sources (usually manuscript transcripts from books now missing, or H.N. Coleridge's versions in Literary Remains); or again, rarely, the fact that an annotated book was once known to exist has had to be recorded without any Coleridgean matter. Professor Whalley's interpretation of 'marginalia' is broad: as well as verbal annotation, he records Coleridge's corrections of misprints, marginal markings (some of which may not be Coleridge's), and bowdlerizings (by cancellations with or without translation of the offending words into a learned language) of texts which appeared offensive either to Coleridge or to a reader he had in view. Certainly the third category, even when represented only by a line of cancellation, throws light on Coleridge'S mind, or taste, or the taste of his time; whether we are as interested in his acuteness as a proofreader might be more open to doubt. On the whole, however, Whalley's arguments for completeness of presentation (p elv) are sound. There are, of course, trivia, such as Coleridge's objection to the use of 'whose' with an impersonal antecedent (pp 723, 725; in item 6A, p 725, his rewriting is neither correct nor as verbally neat as the original); but these are part of the man and must be endured. In nearly 900 pages of text in this volume the proportion of matter likely to engage the merely literary taste is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 119-122
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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