COLERIDGEANA: OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLERIDGE RESEARCH AND STUDY
Walter B. Crawford
(The Coleridge Bulletin New Series No 3, (Spring 1994) [Pages not numbered])
This article is based upon the author's more detailed discussions of the topics in the Preface and introduction to volume III of the Coleridge Bibliography (1994) and on the article in the Coleridge Bulletin, No. 3, Winter 1990, pp 30-48.
Scheduled for publication in 1994 is the long-anticipated third volume of the multi-volume Coleridge Bibliography:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism and Scholarship. 3 vols. 1976, 1983, 1994.
Volume III: Part I, 1793-1994, including Supplement to
Volumes I and II, 1793-1939; Comprehensive Bibliography, 1940-1965 ; Selective
Bibliography, 1966-1994; and Part II, 1791-1993. By Walter B. Crawford with the
research and editorial assistance of Ann M. Crawford.
Volume II, 1900-1939 ( with
additional entries for 1795-1899). By Walter B. Crawford and Edward S.
Lauterbach, with the assistance of Ann B. Crawford.
Volume I, 1793-1899. By Richard
Haven, Josephine Haven, and Maurianne S. Adams.
The Coleridge Bibliography has certain distinguishing features which its users should be aware of and which are explained in detail in the preface to volume III. In particular, our deliberate broadening of our principles of selection in volumes II and III has enabled us to provide more information than is found in most author bibliographies.
In the first place, these volumes provide something of a record of the wide range of responses to Coleridge and treatment of him and his writings by scholars and critics not only in literature but also in other disciplines and by readers whose responses appear on sub-literary and extra-literary levels. These widely varied responses show something of the special appeal Coleridge's personality and works have had for thoughtful and creative persons of widely varied interests and backgrounds. And they show also something of how pervasive Coleridge's influence has been and continues to be, both in what might be called our literary culture and in our general or popular culture as well, and how fundamental are his appeals to the imagination.
In the second place, we have frequently gone beyond the item being annotated in order to supply related information which we deemed important, clarifying, or illuminating. The large amount and variety of this supplemental information, we believe, gives the Coleridge Bibliography dimensions of usefulness and interest well beyond those normally expected of similar reference tools.
Further Bibliographical Research Needed
Considering that these three volumes contain a total of 10,424 entries (including entries completing, supplementing, or correcting some in earlier volumes), a first impression that the job is finally done is understandable. Then one remembers that the Bibliography is "comprehensive" only through 1965, and selective for 1966-1994.
Clearly, further bibliographical research on Coleridge is needed — and a new team of bibliographers will be required to do the job. Fortunately, the latest electronic technology involving on-line bibliographical databases and international information networks will make the job of identifying and locating Coleridge material easier and faster. However, as the retiring bibliographers have learned, even the best electronic databases will not be exhaustive, so that other kinds of searches will be required if the Bibliography for 1966 onwards is to become "comprehensive".
Of course, as these searches continue, more items will show up to supplement the entries for 1793-1965 as well. And some items in the Bibliography, mostly those we learned about shortly before the work went to press, were not located, or seen, or annotated. Some non-English-language items are not described, or annotated very briefly, or not annotated at all. We have not yet been able to locate some items which someone identified somewhere as definitely or probably containing Coleridge material; and a few items we located but were not able to obtain in time. The next Coleridge bibliographers might also wish to include with annotations some of the reviews or review-articles we were able to list and index only as book reviews.
If by some miracle, the music libraries of the British Library and the Library of Congress - and other large music libraries, as well— were given sufficient funds, lovers of literature and music would be enormously benefited by the systematic cataloging of vocal music by authors of the words as well as by composers of the music.
Coleridge Studies in Non-English-Speaking Countries
Scholars working only in English and Western European languages would benefit enormously if more work in Eastern European languages and in languages written in other alphabets—such as Cyrillic, Japanese, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic—were somehow made available to them in English. The most notable demonstration of what can be done along this line is the 1986 bibliography of Coleridge studies in Japan by the late Professor Rikichi Katsurada, and its annotated English-language sequel now in progress under the leadership of Professor Nobuo Takayama. English-language annotated bibliographies of Coleridge scholarship in other languages would be important steps towards the enrichment of Western scholars' understanding and appreciation of Coleridge from a global perspective. Further contributions to such enrichment would be English translations or full summaries of some of the best examples of Coleridge scholarship in languages other than English.
Translations are essential to introduce literature written in one language to students knowing only another. Some Japanese scholars recognized this importance long ago. For example, Saito (1928) encouraged Japanese students, "if they can write well in the vernacular language," to translate English masterpieces. "Though translators are usually slighted as if they were the servants of the original masters, their humble service is of far greater importance to the progress of the native literature than is generally thought." We hope that the many translations of Coleridge annotated and indexed in this Bibliography will encourage others to undertake such tasks.
Other Opportunities for Coleridge Studies
Extremely rare in literary scholarship generally, and non-existent in Coleridge scholarship, are objective, comparative studies of the way interpretation and criticism of individual Coleridge poems is presented in (1) individual works of graphic art, or (2) individual musical settings, or (3) individual translations, or (4) individual editorial treatments in annotated school editions and anthologies. Even the non-verbal interpretations can be at least as illuminating as many a traditional piece of literary criticism.
The principles and practices employed in comparative studies of poetry and music also apply to such studies of oral interpretations. Few of the many audio and audiovisual productions entered in volume III do justice to Coleridge's poems. A good performance shows sensitivity to a poem's subtleties, its felt-idea, the experience it embodies, the natural rhythms of its phrasing, the music of its rhymes and other sound patterns, and it avoids the unnatural effect of pronouncing some words in the modern way, especially the modern American way, rather than the British way that would have been natural to Coleridge.
Until now, no study of Coleridge's reputation and influence has been able to consider more than a very limited range of evidence. The Coleridge Bibliography extends that range enormously. For example, it provides material for study of the extent and quality of Coleridge's effect on people celebrated in their day, many still highly regarded. They include not only literary people but also artists and patrons of the arts, political figures, socio-political writers, philosophers, theologians, historians, scientists, and both major and minor celebrities in other fields as well. Letters, journals, diaries, and autobiographies of such persons, mostly English and American, are a category scattered throughout the Bibliography.
Coleridge's influence, however, has not been limited to celebrities. As much of the material in Part II shows, many of his ideas and many of the themes, characters, attitudes, and phrases from his works have become part of the common language, uttered without thought by thousands of speakers and writers, or if with thought, more often with no awareness of their origin.
Worthy of study is not only what our culture has absorbed of Coleridge, but also the way that absorption manifests itself in allusion as well as direct reference (see "The Matter of Allusion" in the headnote to Part II). The methodology of allusion is a subject still wide open for thorough study, and the Coleridge Bibliography provides a gold-mine of material to be examined.
Other opportunities for Coleridge studies are discussed in the introduction to volume III. Among them are a definitive book on Coleridge portraits like Blanshard's Portraits of Wordsworth (1959), as well as a comparative study of life portraits of Coleridge, starting with analysis of the death mask by an anatomist and a physical anthropologist and proceeding to objective comparison of the features noted with those reproduced by the various portraitists. Then the portraits could be compared with descriptions of Coleridge's face and figure contemporary with the portraits.
Other topics for research include Coleridge's projected but never written or finished writings; the women in Coleridge's life, taking into account his stated views on women generally and on these women in particular, and discussing his actual behavior towards women; the first-hand indication of the interest in or the influence of Coleridge found in the published letters, journals, diaries, notebooks, memoirs, and autobiographies of hundreds of nineteenth-and twentieth -century notables; a comparison of the treatment of Coleridge in biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias, a category only sampled in the Coleridge Bibliography; but Coleridge scholars will find many other topics springing to mind during a thoughtful perusal of Volume III, its Preface, Introduction, Part II headnotes, and index 7.
Although the Crawfords' bibliographical work on Coleridge is now finished, we shall continue to be active in matters pertaining to Coleridge. We shall also continue our efforts to organize and expand the Crawford Coleridge Collection in the Special Collections Department of the Library of California State University, Long Beach, for the benefit of future Coleridge bibliographers and other scholars.