Coleridge and Textual Instability: The Multiple Versions of the Major Poems

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Stillinger establishes and documents the existence of numerous different authoritative versions of Coleridge's best-known poems: sixteen or more of The Eolian Harp, for example, eighteen of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and comparable numbers for This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison, Frost at Midnight, Kubla Khan, Christabel, and Dejection: an Ode. Such multiplicity of versions raises a number of theoretical and practical questions about the constitution of the Coleridge canon, the ontological identity of any specific work in the canon, the editorial treatment of Coleridge's works, and the ways in which multiple versions complicate interpretation of the poems as a unified (or, as the case may be, disunified) body of work. Providing much new information about the texts and production of Coleridge's major poems, Stillinger's study offers intriguing new theories about the nature of authorship and the constitution of literary works.