Wholeness in fragments: Coleridge's Shakespearean criticism

Lee, Kyung-Ook (2000) Wholeness in fragments: Coleridge's Shakespearean criticism. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Coleridge's Shakespearean criticism is mostly composed of fragments-sometimes in the form of lectures, sometimes as notes, and sometimes scribbled on the blank leaves of pamphlets. In his lectures from 1808 to 1819 on literature, Coleridge seldom adhered to the prospectus. In many cases they ended up as fragments. Critics are divided between those who insist that Coleridge's criticism is distinguished by the consistency of its principles and methodology and those who insist on its fragmentariness. The purpose of the thesis is to reveal the wholeness of a Shakespearean criticism that consists of fragments. Some critics such as Thomas MacFarland claim that fragmentation is the distinguishing condition of the Romantic era. According to him, a diasperactive form; that is, an actual incompleteness striving toward a hypothetical unity is common in the art of an era in which the fragment functions as the symbol for the whole. Lee Lust Brown argues that Coleridge hypothesised a textual whole which was both more than and prior to its parts and yet his own writing manifests a degree of literal fragmentation. He takes the fragment as a synecdoche of wholeness and claims that textual wholeness is not so much lost as deferred or displaced in the question of its possibility. Agreeing with these critics, I argue for the wholeness of Coleridge's Shakespearean criticism. In so doing, first of all, I deal with the representative schools of Shakespearean criticism before or contemporary with Coleridge, those of his predecessors and of the German Idealists, because these constitute the two main sources informing Coleridge's Shakespearean criticism. Considering that Coleridge's Shakespearean criticism is closely linked to his poetic principles, I try to define his poetic principles-the concept of nature, organicism, and imagination. I deal with Coleridge's criticism of Shakespeare under three heads; Shakespeare as an artist, Shakespeare's poetic works, and their appreciation. In chapter one, in order to trace the background of Coleridge's Shakespearean criticism, I discuss the two distinctive schools of Shakespearean criticism contemporary with Coleridge; i.e., the British school and the German school. In chapter two, I deal with the poetical principles that form the ground of Coleridge's Shakespearean criticism; that is, the concept of nature, organicism and imagination. In chapter three, I show how a unified ideal of Shakespeare can be drawn from the fragments. In chapter four, I begin by tracing Coleridge's insistence that Shakespeare's drama is an instance, indeed the highest instance, of all art. In chapter five, I deal with Coleridge's appreciation of Shakespeare's work. Finally, I discuss Coleridge's idea of the perfect audience for Shakespeare's plays, the audience that the plays imply. In conclusion I offer a general view of Coleridge's Shakespearean criticism and indicate its crucial place in critical history. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Stephen Prickett
Keywords: English literature, Comparative literature
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-71900
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 09:31
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71900

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