Flores Moreno, Cristina. 2008. Plastic Intellectual Breeze. The Contribution of Ralph Cudworth to S. T. Coleridge's Early Poetics of the Symbol. Bern: Peter Lang, 451 pp.

(ISBN: 978-3-03911-472-6)

Plastic Intellectual Breeze offers a new perspective on the study of the sources of S. T. Coleridge’s poetics. The author argues that the philosophical system endorsed by the Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth significantly contributed to the genesis of Coleridge’s concept of the symbol and its related symbolic knowledge.
After an initial comprehensive view of the different articulations the symbol acquired in Coleridge’s theorizations over his career, the book reverts to the poet’s formative years from 1795 to 1798, in order to get to the roots of the concept.F
Apart from discussing Coleridge’s direct readings of Cudworth's The True Intellectual System in the years 1795 and 1796, the author explores the reception of Cudworth’s ideas in a number of philosophers, scientists, poets and literary theorists of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries who were, in turn, read by the Romantic author. This study also provides new insights into Coleridge’s lectures and poems in which the Coleridgean notion of symbol was born: Lectures on Revealed Religion, “The Destiny of Nations”, “Religious Musings” and the Conversation Poems in the light of Cudworth’s philosophical tenets.

Summary of contents

British Sources of English Romantic Platonism – The “new” Romantic symbol – S. T. Coleridge’s concept(s) of symbol – The Philosophy of the Cambridge Platonists –Ralph Cudworth’s notion of plastic nature in The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678) – The Reception of the Cambridge Thinkers’ philosophy in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries S. T. Coleridge’s early poetics (1794–1798) – The Neoplatonic background of Coleridge’s Lectures on Revealed Religion, “Destiny of Nations”, “Religious Musings” and the Conversation Poems.


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