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date: 05 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines major statements of Wordsworth and Coleridge on the faculty of imagination to elucidate that for both writers ‘imagination’ designates an active, productive, and non-representational mental process that should give access to forms of experience not available to habitual modes of reading and perception. This conception of imagination has its roots in the philosophical positions of German Idealism. While Coleridge’s concept of imagination emerges in immediate dialog with the philosophical tradition, a full understanding of Wordsworth’s view of imagination requires an analysis of the poetry of The Prelude. A close examination of central passages devoted to imagination in The Prelude demonstrates that imagination in Wordsworth’s text invokes both the transcendent and the uncanny, continually ‘vexing’ the unity of the poetic self even as the text seeks to produce it. Like the ‘voice of waters’ in The Prelude’s Snowdon episode, imagination and poetry are expressions of a fundamental ‘“homelessness’.

Keywords: William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, imagination, poetics, poetry, aesthetics, German Idealism, The Prelude, Biographia Literaria

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