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Organising PoetryThe Coleridge Circle, 1790-1798$
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David Fairer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296163

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296163.001.0001

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Introduction: ‘one common life’

Introduction: ‘one common life’

(p.1) Introduction: ‘one common life’
Organising Poetry

David Fairer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This introductory chapter summarizes the aims and argument of the book as a critical intervention in the study of 1790s ‘Romanticism’. The book is not concerned with the anachronistic term ‘Romantic’ but seeks to read the early poetry of Coleridge, Wordsworth, and their friends within its 18th-century context. In place of an idealist ‘One Life Romanticism’ this book traces the influence of Locke's empirical ‘one common life’, a discursive identity that persists through time. It shows how the poets confronted problems of continuity and sustainability at a moment of revolution when everything was to be re-made. The challenge posed by radicals like Paine and Godwin, who sought to discard history and recreate society from first principles, was uncomfortable for young writers who valued the past and sought to understand their own identities and personal histories. The book looks at how their poems took shape in this challenging context.

Keywords:   organic, continuity, one life, Locke, revolution, Romanticism, Coleridge, returns

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