English Romanticism: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Coleridge is a romantic poet of first generation. He was born in Devonshire and when he was ten,he was sent to Christ's Hospital School in London.Later he went to Cambridge but he never graduated. He was a liberal because he was influenced by the French Revolution but after the disillusion he became a conservative. So he planned to found an Utopian society in Pennsylvania called 'Pantisocracy',based on the abolition of private ownership and where every economic activity would be done communally in order to create the best environment for everyone,but this project was never realized. The friendship with Wordsworth was very important because they published the collection 'LYRICAL BALLADS',which contains his masterpiece called 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. In the following years he went to the Lake District to start his career of journalism and to criticize Shakespeare. Then he wrote another critical famous essay called 'Biographia Literaria' where he states his position in the collaboration with Wordsworth. He said that Wordsworth's object in the Lyrical Ballads was to speak about ordinary life,humble and rustic people but his task was to underline the supernatural.

His concept of nature was very different from Wordsworth. He didn't have a pantheist vision because he was a catholicc and he couldn't identify nature with the divine power. He just talked about the supernatural,something that goes beyond God. He saw nature as the projection of the real world of ideas on the flux of time.

In his Biographia Literaria he explains his concept of imagination,in fact he distinguished between primary imagination,fancy and secondary imagination.The 'primary imagination' is the power that everybody has to perceive the world and the images around us and this is the first level of imagination. The second level is the fancy,the faculty that only children have to associate images and things. The secondary imagination is a third level of perception and it is the power,typical of artists,to recreate the images perceived under a work of art.
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