Major And Minor Points In Biographia Literaria

What Are The Major And Minor Points In Biographia Literaria By Coleridge?

As we know that Biographia Literaria, also known as “Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life And Opinions” is basically a critical autobiography written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge who originally intended to write it as a preface to his collection of poems to explain and justify the style that he has practiced in his poetry.  

There are certain specific things that altogether compile the entire content of Biographia Literaria which I am also going to discuss with you in this article. So, if you want to get a crux of everything Biographia Literaria is all about and the major ideas that have been represented in its texts, then this is the apt article for you for sure.  

Major And Minor Points In Biographia Literaria

Biographia Literaria has been published in two volumes which means that there is a lot of content, so a brief description will make understanding the entire text and its basic purpose quite easy. 

The Idea Of Imagination In Biographia Literaria

Imagination has been represented as of two kinds by Coleridge, primary and secondary. 

What Is Primary Imagination According To Coleridge?

According to the text in Biographia Literaria, the primary imagination is the source of all the living power as well as human perception. It involves repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creating in the infinite I AM.

Thus, the power through which an individual can receive the impressions of the external world with the help of the senses he/she has refers to the primary imagination of the individual. 

What Is Secondary Imagination According To Coleridge?

On the other hand, Coleridge’s secondary imagination can be referred to as an echo of the primary imagination which co-exists with the conscious will, and yet it is as identical with the primary imagination with reference to its agency, as its difference only in the aspect of its degree and the mode of operation. 

As for the secondary imagination, Coleridge takes it to be the shaping and modifying power of an individual that has the capacity of diffusing, dissolving, and dissipating in order to create. It is basically a unifying power. 

The Concept Of Fancy By Coleridge In Biographia Literaria

In his description of imagination which he also classified into primary and secondary, Coleridge has also added the idea of Fancy, which doesn’t have any counters to play with. Fancy is also sort of a mode of Memory that has been emancipated from the order of time and space. 

Fancy is something that can be expressed by the word Choice when it is blended with and modified by the phenomenon of the will. However, just like the ordinary memory of an individual, all the materials that Fancy needs are also received ready-made from the law of association. 

If compared with the two types of imagination, primary and secondary, Coleridge considers Fancy to be the lowest of all as it is already of the earthly realm. Our baser desires are sourced by our fancy, and thus, it can also be called a repository for lust as it is not a creative faculty. 

The Two Cardinal Points Of Poetry In Biographia Literaria

Coleridge has provided two major cardinal points of poetry which are:

1. The power of exciting the reader’s sympathy by adhering faithfully to the truth or nature.

2. The power of providing the novel interest as a result of the modification of the colors of imagination. 

On a combination of both these cardinal points, a sudden charm can be formed which accidents of light and shade, which appears as if the sun-set and moonlight have together diffused over a familiar landscape. 

All the major Romantic Poets have preoccupied their poetries with Truth and have always considered the truth of nature as superior to poetry because poetry is just an artifice. However, poetry is a mode of providing a different way of looking at nature so that one can perceive the ordinary and familiar nature as something new and unique. 

What Is The Main Theme Of Biographia Literaria?

Artistic Influences, Individual Expression, and Poetic form can be assigned as the three main themes of Biographia Literaria. 

Coleridge has discussed all the influences that have shaped his development as an artistic individual. He has also considered various topics which are related to the poetic form, which also includes diction. And the book Biographia Literaria greatly lays emphasis on how important individuality is in art and gives a demonstration of the individual sensibility of Coleridge. 

Final Words

I hope that after you have gone through my explanation of the major and minor points in Biographia Literaria by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, it will become much easier for you to comprehend the entire text. You can also check out my other articles like The Cuckoo Poem Summary, Nineteen Hundred And Nineteen Poem Summary By W.B.Yeats, Summary Of September 1, 1939 Poem By W.H. Auden

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