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Coleridge: Darker Reflections, 1804-1834 (Coleridge #2)

4.5 of 5 stars 4.50  ·  rating details  ·  114 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Richard Holmes's Coleridge: Early Visions won the 1989 Whitbread Book of the Year Prize. Coleridge: Darker Reflections, the long-awaited second volume, chronicles the last thirty years of his career (1804-1834), a period of domestic and professional turmoil. His marriage foundered, his opium addiction increased, he quarreled bitterly with Wordsworth, and his son, Hartley ( ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published February 29th 2000 by Pantheon (first published 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 291)
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When one speaks of magisterial works, Richard Holmes's two-volume biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge is what I think of. I just completed volume II, Darker Reflections, and it is amazing. Just amazing.

The second volume begins as Coleridge leaves England for Malta. Coleridge's opium addiction is well documented, and Holmes is able to move Coleridge's addiction beyond the sparkling creativity of "Kubla Khan" to the often desperate, agonizing, embarrassing, and hellish addiction it was. All the s
James Murphy
This is the 2d volume of the huge biography by Richard Holmes. It's an exhaustive look at the man and poet. At the end of the day there's much more information about Coleridge here than I want. But Holmes kept me interested, especially in his accounts of relationships with other poets, such as Byron and Wordsworth, who he considered a rival. So many poets seclude themselves with what gives them solace, whether it be nature or religion or love or whatever. Not Coleridge. He was always in some kin ...more
Roger Norman

One of the best of all literary biographies, according to me. Two fat volumes, a thousand pages in all, written by a man who loves his subject and produces the same feeling in sympathetic readers, in this one anyway. I knew nothing much beyond The Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan when I set out, and of course the opium addiction. Despite his long struggle with the drug, which drove him close to despair and suicide, STC turns out to be a wonderfully kind and generous and deeply intelligent man, int
Obviously it helps a biographer when his subject is such a fascinating character, surrounded by other fascinating characters and at the centre of a period of social and cultural ferment, but Richard Holmes does a very good job of riding the flow of Coleridge's life and presenting him to the reader as a living, breathing, brilliant, passionate, ridiculous, selfish, selfless, driven, lazy, complicated man. He doesn't stint with the character flaws but, nevertheless, by the end of the book I was a ...more
You know the biographer has done something extraordinary when you reach the last pages, the scenes of the protagonist's death, and find yourself in tears for a man you KNEW had been a dead poet for 200 years before you picked up his biography. Oh, Coleridge--to have been a fly on the wall. Or a dinner guest. To judge the biographer's art--Holmes' work seems to me impeccable, though perhaps, because he did make me fall headlong for his subject, he is too much an advocate. I don't think so, but ma ...more
As Doris Lessing wrote in her review of this book, we should be grateful that we live in a golden age of biography. Richard Holmes is surely one of the luminaries of the age.

An absolutely splendid biography that opens up Coleridge's mind, heart and body for inspection and sympathetic consideration. Among the best of the hundreds of biographies of literary figures that I have read. Only Ann Wroe's recent biography of Shelly stands in comparison.
Jun 02, 2010 Tom added it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Reading this out of order because the library doesn't have the first volume and this is the only book by Holmes they have other than the fantastic "The Age of Wonder" which I read a little while back.

Update: couldn't finish it. Nothing against the author, it was fantastically written. I just couldn't put up with more wasted opportunities by Coleridge. So frustrating.
Helen Damnation
The second part, and the true start of a falling life truly gaining momentum.

Both parts of this biography are a delight to read (and I did so in the week between Boxing Day and New Year) both as a study of Coleridge and as a story.

I devoured with delight.
Cooper Renner
I read this book a number of years ago--maybe 2000. Now I'm dipping into it again in conjunction with some fiction I've been working on featuring Coleridge. A vast amount of information is here.
The second half of an entertaining, comprehensive biography. I think it would be indispensable if you have any love or fascination for Coleridge.
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Biographer Richard Holmes was born in London, England on 5 November 1945 and educated at Downside School and Churchill College, Cambridge. His first book, Shelley:The Pursuit, was published in 1974 and won a Somerset Maugham Award. The first volume of his biography of the po
More about Richard Holmes...

Other Books in the Series

Coleridge (2 books)
  • Coleridge: Early Visions, 1772-1804
The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air Coleridge: Early Visions, 1772-1804 Shelley: The Pursuit Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer

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