Coleridge's Obscure Publicity
Coleridge's Obscure Publicity
Radical Journalism and the Crisis of Revolution
About the Book
This is the third chapter of my DPhil thesis, Coleridge and Romantic Obscurity.
In my doctoral research, I explored why we attribute pro-democratic significance to 'clarity' and anti-democratic significance to 'obscurity' in politics, philosophy and literature.
In this chapter, I discuss the development of Coleridge's early political views and his anxieties concerning the effects of political writing on the indeterminate ‘people’.
To put this chapter in some context, here's my thesis abstract:
In this thesis I argue that ‘obscurity’ was a complex concept in intellectual and revolutionary debate in the ‘long’ eighteenth century in Britain, and I show that it played a crucial part in the development of Coleridge’s rhetoric, criticism and poetry. Recent scholarship on the history of obscurity in rhetoric and aesthetics has focused on its development from antiquity to the Enlightenment and its role in twentieth-century modernism and postmodernism, but the function of obscurity in relation to Romanticism remains largely unexplored.
In my introductory chapters, I consider the positive and negative functions of obscurity in the new rhetorics of clarity and obscurity which emerged in the politically charged debates between and among British radicals and reactionaries in the mid- to late-eighteenth century. In particular, I consider the emergence of a new rhetoric of obscurity in the work of Robert Lowth and Edmund Burke, and I discuss Burke’s politicised deployment of this rhetoric in the 1790s. In my second chapter, I show how various radical writers, including Thomas Paine, Joseph Priestley, Mary Wollstonecraft and John Thelwall responded to Burke with a politicised new rhetoric of clarity. The clash between these two rhetorics, I argue, resulted in the development of an ambiguous rhetoric of Romantic obscurity which inherited their conflicts and contradictions concerning the authority, reception, and representation of obscurity in political, philosophical and literary writing.
In the remainder of my thesis, I develop these ideas through a study of the prose and poetry of the central figure of Romantic obscurity, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In his early political prose, Coleridge’s engagement with the figure and the concept of obscurity follows the development of his political views and his anxieties concerning the effects of political writing on the indeterminate ‘people’. In the project of The Friend, Coleridge acknowledges that obscurity has a central but paradoxical function in the reception and representation of his abstruse philosophical researches. Finally, I consider the function of obscurity in Coleridge’s early poetry, in the reactionary defence of poetic obscurity in the Biographia Literaria, and in the construction of the ‘mystery’ poems.
Leonard Lawrence Epp
University of Oxford
- Coleridge’s Obscure Publicity
- A Moral and Political Lecture
- Conciones ad Populum, Or Addresses to the People
- The Plot Discovered
- The Watchman
The Leanpub 60-day 100% Happiness Guarantee
Within 60 days of purchase you can get a 100% refund on any Leanpub purchase, in two clicks.
See full terms
80% Royalties. Earn $16 on a $20 book.
We pay 80% royalties. That's not a typo: you earn $16 on a $20 sale. If we sell 5000 non-refunded copies of your book or course for $20, you'll earn $80,000.
(Yes, some authors have already earned much more than that on Leanpub.)
In fact, authors have earnedover $12 millionwriting, publishing and selling on Leanpub.
Learn more about writing on Leanpub
Free Updates. DRM Free.
If you buy a Leanpub book, you get free updates for as long as the author updates the book! Many authors use Leanpub to publish their books in-progress, while they are writing them. All readers get free updates, regardless of when they bought the book or how much they paid (including free).
Most Leanpub books are available in PDF (for computers) and EPUB (for phones, tablets and Kindle). The formats that a book includes are shown at the top right corner of this page.
Finally, Leanpub books don't have any DRM copy-protection nonsense, so you can easily read them on any supported device.