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Beres, D. (1959). The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. I in Two Parts (1794-1804): Edited by Kathleen Coburn. Bollingen Series L. New York: Pantheon Books, 1957. Text, 546 pp.; Notes, 615 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 28:267-270.

(1959). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 28:267-270

The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. I in Two Parts (1794-1804): Edited by Kathleen Coburn. Bollingen Series L. New York: Pantheon Books, 1957. Text, 546 pp.; Notes, 615 pp.

Review by:
David Beres

In recent years there has been a revival of interest in the writers of the romantic period and an awareness of their influence on modern thought. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, among the British writers, is probably the most influential. His writings included poetry, philosophical essays, and literary criticism. He was also an inveterate keeper of notebooks; these were, he said, 'Alas, my only confidants'. In them he entered his thoughts, his observations, sentences and paragraphs from his readings, snatches of poems, and also his dreams and his fantasies. Miss Coburn is engaged in editing these notebooks, which will appear in five volumes, each to consist of two parts; one, the text of the notebooks and the other, critical and explanatory comments by Miss Coburn. The first of these volumes takes us from the year 1794 to 1804.

What interests the psychoanalyst in these notebooks is that one finds many ideas that have a striking affinity to the basic concepts of psychoanalysis, and it is, I believe, a valuable activity to examine this affinity and to conjecture on the historical relationship. There is a historical unity to thought, and psychoanalysis must find its place in this unity.

A distinction must be made between the superficial passing reference to psychological subjects in the works of some early writers and the deeper searching, the sustained effort to achieve understanding in the works of other writers. Coleridge is an outstanding example of the latter. Also one must distinguish between the valuable and significant contributions of the romantic movement and its excesses that led Goethe, for instance, to equate romanticism and sickness.

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