Random Media Motorist 1: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Delphi Classics on Kindle

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My Kindle library is entirely out of control. I have more books than I could ever hope to read, although I try not to dwell on that fact, since it tends to haul a chain of other facts too dark and dreary for casual consideration after it. I’d rather leave the Hamletizing to my formal essays.

Blogs are far better suited for facts of the random species. In the Random Media Motorist blog post series, I’m going to select a book from my Kindle library, or an album from my Amazon music library, entirely at random and address it to the best of my ability, whether I’m familiar with it or not. Personally, I love reading blog posts of this sort (see, and go ahead and hit “follow,” while you’re there, Bibliokept’s Blog about Three Books), and perhaps you’ll find it mildly amusing yourself.

Today’s random kindle book is the Delphi Classics edition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Complete Works (Version 1, 2013).

Which is kind of odd, since I just read a Coleridge reference in Vincenzo Bilof’s The Violators. But that’s randomness for you–it’s always less so than it appears (cue a future post on Jung’s Synchronicity).

At any rate, I have nothing but praise for Delphi’s Classics series. See? This is what’s so great about random topics. It would’ve never occurred to me to dedicate a post to Delphi Classics, but here we are, and it’s much deserved. Delphi consistently feeds my Kindle with top-quality ebook collections of the classics at a consistent price of less than three bucks a pop (most of them fall in the $0.99 to $1.99 range). “Top-quality” is the keyword, here, because a lot of the free or equally cheap classics collections on Kindle are the result of sloppy, unedited scans often rendering the text unreadable. Nothing’s more annoying than paying hard-earned cash for an unedited or badly edited book. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about this with Delphi.

On to Coleridge. He’s an eighteenth-century lyric poet and pal of William Wordsworth. I have to admit, much to my shame as an English major, that I haven’t been much of a fan of the lyric poets, primarily because some of their eighteenth-century contemporaries (I’m thinking specifically of those poets Robert Southey christened the “Satanic School,” including Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Blake) are so much more damned exciting! I mean, the choice between The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and the Lyrical Ballads is obvious based on the titles alone.

It took no less than a defense by William H. Gass to open my mind to reading Coleridge again. Gass parades Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria as one of the fifty greatest books ever written ever written (well… sort of… Gass appends pretty strong disclaimers to this list in A Temple of Texts), and for me, call it slavish devotion (because it is), Gass’ literary opinion is better than gold.

So I began it, and stopped. It certainly was interesting, and I will read it in its entirety at some point. One thing is certain, I’m no longer categorically opposed to Coleridge. It’s much too involved an undertaking to revisit in the midst of supporting this blog with an author interview series and accompanying book reviews (it would be the equivalent of taking on Ulysses or all of Montaigne’s essays), but it’s definitely on the TBR list.

I opened the book to the following observation: “Hence the German word for fanaticism, (such at least was its original import,) is derived from the swarming of bees, namely, schwaermen, schwaermerey” (Loc. 43080). Nothing tops a little etymology for providing a dose of perspective.

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