Five of Coleridge’s major poems are given fresh scrutiny in this arresting study. One of its unusual features is the attention given the Preface to “Kubla Khan,” the Gloss to The Ancient Mariner, and other prose accompaniments to the poems usually dismissed as extraneous. Devices such as these, the author argues, are strategically employed by Coleridge in an effort to engage the reader in a fully imaginative response.
Kathleen Wheeler elucidates the texts in terms of aesthetic experience and also in terms of the philosophical principles that inform them, showing how Coleridge’s theories of mind and imagination function within the poems and shape their design. A subtle and gifted reader of poetry, she enriches our understanding of poems we thought we knew well, and provides insights along the way into the creative process.