Coleridge's Chrysopoetics: Alchemy, Authorship, and Imagination.
This thesis is an attempt to assess the creative potential of alchemy as a master trope in Coleridge's conception of authorship and imagination. It begins with a challenge to the idea that an autonomous author is at the centre of a literary work. This idea is crucial to the reception of literature and to the way in which concepts of "originality" and "authorship" are typically understood. Against this marking out of an author as a singular, autonomous, and uniquely privileged "self', I posit that, for Coleridge, authorship occurs in a transformative or alchemical interspace between the desire for self-expression and the necessarily other-determined nature of creativity. Offering an alternative trajectory for the author, Coleridge elaborates an imaginative strategy in which the dislocation of the selffrom itself is the truest path to self-expression, and the author must become other in order to become morefully himself. Demonstrating a unique link between plagiarism and creativity, this thesis suggests that alchemy, better than any other system, accounts for Coleridge's propensity for plagiarism and for an aesthetic of artifice. In an attempt to trace Coleridge's familiarity with Hermetic and alchemical discourses throughout his life, it has been necessary to review works as varied as those of Plato, Marsilio Ficino, Ralph Cudworth, Jacob Boehme, Herman Boerhaave, and F. W. J. Schelling. I then suggest how Coleridge appropriates alchemical terminology to his own aesthetic and imaginative ends. Unable to resolve the desire for aesthetic autonomy with the impossibility of asserting the self in one's own voice, the thesis posits that Coleridge "plays" in the hermeneutic interspace between selfhood and otherness, creativity and counterfeit, authority and artifice, in order to arrive at an entirely unique strategy of alchemical self-exposition. Arriving at authorial selfhood through the odyssey of alterity, Coleridge's "play"giarisms, in this view, do not violate the principles of originality, but redefine them. The thesis ends with a consideration of the necessarily negotiated fiction of all acts of imagination and authorship.
- Theses