Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto:  Message ListNew TopicSearchLog In
250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2021 08:54PM
Next October will see the 250th anniversary of the birth of STC. Of all the major canonical authors, I might be ready to argue he's more Ours, as readers of fantasy and weird fiction, than any other such author is.

Even than Poe?

I'd be willing to argue the affirmative case along these lines:

Poe's achievement is impressive but more narrow than STC's. Poe, not STC, is obviously the founder of modern horror fiction. Poe is also a founder figure of the detective story.

But Coleridge is founder of

1.Mythopoeic Fantasy -- with "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
2.Dunsanian Fantasy -- with "Kubla Khan"
3.the Weird Tale -- with "Christabel" Parts 1 & 2

These works remain outstanding, not just historically important (as I would say is more the case with, oh, Frankenstein, a rather weepy thing).

Anyway, I hope this list will gear up for some enjoyment of STC.

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2021 09:25PM
This is a good reminder of just how good I think he was.

I couldn't get enough of The Rime, reading it maybe 6-8 times. The narrative frame added that special "zing" to an otherwise outstanding story.

I still feel that I need to smoke some hashish to fully enjoy Kubla Khan... ;^)

I've never read Christabel and will make it a point to do so.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2021 10:54PM
What we have of the story of “Christabel” combines medievalism and vampirism remarkably. It has a comic taste (the dog) right at the beginning that helps the reader settle in — soon the witchery begins.

I should have referred to “October of next year” rather than “next October” — sorry!

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2021 03:26PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What we have of the story of “Christabel”
> combines medievalism and vampirism remarkably. It
> has a comic taste (the dog) right at the beginning
> that helps the reader settle in — soon the
> witchery begins.
>
> I should have referred to “October of next
> year” rather than “next October” — sorry!


Well, I just read it for the first time and am unsure what to make of the narrative, in specific terms.

Now this uncertainty is *good*, in my opinion: it's the central attraction of the film "Picnic at Hanging Rock", in my opinion. So this stuff, if well done (ad this is), is a sort of mood-setting magic.

I'd like to solicit your help with this one. I'll convey what I *thought* was happening...

The knight's daughter, Christobel, a young virgin, met what appeared to be another maiden (Geraldine) in distress in the woods and takes her home.

However, there are indications that the dog doesn't like this visitor, and if this was a predictable narrative, we'd soon see that Geraldine is a foul, stinking vampire!

But it's not that clear...

Now the two women disrobe (at Geraldine's behest) and apparently sleep, although these are disturbing dreams.

Too, there is repeated mention of Chrisobel's mother who died in childbirth.

Now the next morning Christobel shows Geraldine to her father, the knight, and it turns out that Geraldine is the daughter of a former close friend of the knight, but they are estranged for no good reason.

...or so she says.

At some point Christobel looks at Geraldine and recalls that from her dream, she met the stare of a serpent crushing a bird (symbolically possibly the bird is Christobel and the snake is...???) and she sees, momentarily, the same look in Geraldine's eyes.

Notwithstanding, the knight is overjoyed, wants to return Geraldine to her father and also to patch up old squabbles. He sends her back with his minstrel. I'm unsure how this turns out.

Christobel expresses her fears to her dad, but he pooh-poohs this in the presence of Geraldine.

I am not certain how all this turned out. I read it only once and fairly quickly.

What is happening here, Dale?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2021 04:55PM
Everything you say sounds correct, Sawfish. I don't see any misinterpretation.

Coleridge protested for years that he knew how to conclude "Christabel," but it seems he never did. What we have is a poetic tour-de-force. It may be that, with the passage of time, Coleridge felt that he simply wasn't capable any more of writing with such "daemonic" (="genius") power and so the thing had better be left unfinished. (An element of this predicament may have been his laudanum addiction.)

Nethercot's book The Road to Tryermaine is what you want to get hold of if you want to read about the sources and possibilities and biographical background, etc. of "Christabel."

There's a suggestion that Christabel will suffer and that this will somehow help to bring about the reconciliation of the estranged friends and also Geraldine's being freed from a kind of enthrallment. I'll need to revisit the poem to say much more than that.

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2021 06:08PM
In an odd way, though, it's magnificent in its incompleteness!

Again, I refer to Picnic at Hanging Rock. I had no idea what this would be about; I saw it when it came out, during that Australian film explosion--Walkabout, Last Wave, Breaker Morant, Gallipoli, etc. There comes a part where there is some sort of description of what was found of the young girls' outing, and the implications are soooo weird and almost incomprehensible that the hair stands up on the back of your neck...

...and you still don't know what happened, or even what to *think* may have happened, but whatever it was...

Christobel, in its present form, has a lot of that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2021 06:31PM
I like that connection, Sawfish.

Did you ever read Joan Lindsay's novel? Picnic at Hanging Rock is good. There's a bit, perhaps no more than a sentence or two, in which someone sees a reddish cloud in the distance. Nothing is spelled out about what it was. But in context it's eerie.

Avoid at all costs her book The Secret of Hanging Rock. It "explains" things.

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2021 06:53PM
NOOOO!

I DON'T WANT IT EXPLAINED!!!

:^)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2021 08:33PM
You know, I was really laboring to find another well-known example of purposely, skillfully unresolved plot that sents this type of work apart, and I think the film Life of Pi is another such example.

I did not read the book, but I followed discussion threads when the film first came out. Since then, it seems like I've seen a significant shift in how the plot is resolved.

The film gave you two choices: the remarkably appealing tale of the youth making a remarkable survival pact with a tiger with the unlikely name of Richard Parker; and a far more tawdry tale.

The narrator in the film essentially tells you to choose the one you like best, and I always took that to mea that the brutal and tawdry one was the actual story, but you can create your own alternative to inhabit, as a sort of coping mechanism.

At first all the posters to the forums wanted to say, lead pipe cinch, the *real* story was the tiger one; later it switched back around.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 10 March, 2021 06:10PM
This thread prompted me to re-read "Christabel", a work that I loved the first time I read it, but which I had never quite thought of as a foundational Weird Tale (although I can't really argue with Dale describing it so).

I always linked it in my own mind with Tennyson's Idylls of the King, since the Arthurian mythos has its own share of high weirdness (Galahad taking a turn in the Siege Perilous, Merlin generally being Merlin, etc). But "Christabel" certainly exhibits a strain of the weird that is something else again!

Sawfish's connection between "Christabel" and "Picnic at Hanging Rock" is intriguing: I've loved both the book and the film ever since I first encountered them many years ago. It's hard to know what final shape "Christabel" might have taken if Coleridge ever finished it, but "as is" I agree that it shares some sympathies with "Picnic at Hanging Rock", since both works feature a distinct brush with a highly ambiguous instance of the weird. It seems to me that Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space" uses a similar approach, and for that very reason it's one of his best works.

However, both "Christabel" and "Picnic at Hanging Rock" (the book even more so than the film) also have strong elements of homoeroticism, which are absent in Lovecraft's tale. I always interpreted that element of "Picnic at Hanging Rock" as an indication of the characters' willingness to cross boundaries and be receptive to transgressive experiences. I wonder if Coleridge had the same intent with "Christabel"?

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 10 March, 2021 11:00PM
Oldjoe, I expect to reread “Christabel “ within a few weeks. Right now I’m reading a life of Coleridge and am focusing on other poems, such as the Lime-Tree Bower one. After I read the biography, though, I may pick up Nethercot’s study of “Christabel “ again (The Road to Tryermaine).

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 2 April, 2021 07:38PM
I relished this short video visit with Malcolm Guite, author of a very fine book, Mariner, on Coleridge. But look at that library-study. Isn't that incredibly appealing?

[www.youtube.com]

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 2 April, 2021 11:38PM
Gosh, the guy looks a lot like I envision the Ancient Mariner...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: 250th anniversary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 2022
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 9 April, 2021 12:01PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Oldjoe, I expect to reread “Christabel “
> within a few weeks. Right now I’m reading a
> life of Coleridge and am focusing on other poems,
> such as the Lime-Tree Bower one. After I read the
> biography, though, I may pick up Nethercot’s
> study of “Christabel “ again (The Road to
> Tryermaine).


OK, I have just reread "Christabel" and am about 50 pages into Nethercot's Road to Tryermaine.



Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
Top of Page