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Romanticism, Enthusiasm, and RegulationPoetics and the Policing of Culture in the Romantic Period$
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Jon Mee

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199284788

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199284788.001.0001

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Coleridge, Prophecy, and Imagination

Coleridge, Prophecy, and Imagination

(p.131) CHAPTER THREE Coleridge, Prophecy, and Imagination
Romanticism, Enthusiasm, and Regulation


Oxford University Press

The chapter looks at the importance of the idea of ‘enthusiasm’ to Coleridge's poetics. It examines the early radical and religious poetry and its millenarian aspirations, but suggests that even here, close reading reveals attempts to bridle what might be construed as enthusiasm, often through tropes of retirement and distance from the crowd. These tensions are also explored via Coleridge's relations with Rational Dissent, and figures like Godwin and Thelwall. Coleridge's interest in ‘the pathology of the benevolent passions’ holds out for poets a role as healers of diseased enthusiasm, but there is a continual fear that proximity may only bring infection. Coleridge tries to cure the problem through desynonymization, distinguishing ‘enthusiasm’ from ‘fanaticism’, but struggles to keep his own distinctions in place.

Keywords:   Coleridge, rational dissent, enthusiasm, fanaticism, desynonymization, Godwin, Thelwall, benevolent passions

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