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Abstract

Many years ago, when I was looking over Piranesi’s Antiquities of Rome, Mr. Coleridge, who was standing by, described to me a set of plates by that artist, called his Dreams, and which record the scenery of his own visions during the delirium of a fever. Some of them (I describe only from memory of Mr. Coleridge’s account) represented vast Gothic halls: on the floor of which stood all sorts of engines and machinery, wheels, cables, pulleys, levers, catapults, &c. &c. expressive of enormous power put forth and resistance overcome. Creeping along the sides of the walls, you perceived a staircase; and upon it, groping his way upwards, was Piranesi himself: follow the stairs a little further, and you perceive it come to a sudden abrupt termination, without any balustrade, and allowing no step onwards to him who had reached the extremity, except into the depths below. Whatever is to become of poor Piranesi, you suppose, at least, that his labours must in some way terminate here. But raise you eyes, and behold a second flight of stairs still higher: on which again Piranesi is perceived, by this time standing on the very brink of the abyss. Again elevate your eye, and a still more aerial flight of stairs is beheld: and again is poor Piranesi busy on his aspiring labours: and so on, until the unfinished stairs and Piranesi both are lost in the upper gloom of the hall. With the same power of endless growth and self-reproduction did my architecture proceed in dreams.1

Keywords

Enormous Power Polar Logic Divine Creation Religious Thinker Acrimonious Debate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater, ed. Alethea Hayter (1821; Harmondsworth, 1971) pp. 105–6.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting in England, vol. 4 (Strawberry Hill, 1762- 71); quoted in Mario Praz, Introductory Essay to Peter Fairclough (ed.), Three Gothic Novels (Harmondsworth, 1968) pp. 16–17.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    William Vaughan, Romantic Art (London, 1978) pp. 32–6Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Jørgen Andersen, ‘Giant Dreams, Piranesi’s Influence in England’, English Miscellany, 3 (Rome, 1952), quoted in Mario Praz, op. cit., p. 16;Google Scholar
  5. Philip Hofer, Introduction to Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Prisons [Le Carceri] (New York, 1973) p. viii.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Thomas De Quincey, ‘Samuel Taylor Coleridge’, Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine, Sep 1834-Jan 1835; repr. in Reminiscences of the English Lake Poets, ed. John E. Jordan (London and New York, 1961) p. 10.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Quoted in Alec R. Vidler, F. D. Maurice and Company: Nineteenth-Century Studies (London, 1966) p. 222.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    A. C. Swinburne, Essays and Studies (London, 1875) p. 274.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Leslie Stephen, Hours in a Library, vol. III, 3rd edn (1879; London, 1909) p. 343.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    E. P. Thompson, review of David V. Erdman (ed.), Essays on His Times (Princeton, 1978), in The Wordsworth Circle, 10 (1979) 261–5.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Stephen Happel, ‘Words Made Beautiful by Grace: On Coleridge the Theologian’, Religious Studies Review, 6 (1980) 201–10.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    Mary Midgley, Heart and Mind: The Varieties of Moral Experience (Brighton, 1981) p. 44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 15.
    See Milton C. Nahm, ‘The Theological Background of the Theory of the Artist as Creator’, Journal of the History of Ideas, VIII (1947) 365.Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    Owen Barfield, What Coleridge Thought (Middletown, Conn., 1971) pp. 144–57.Google Scholar
  15. 21.
    Pamela Vermes, Buber on God and the Perfect Man (Providence, RI, 1980) pp. 81–5.Google Scholar
  16. 22.
    Northrop Frye, The Great Code (London, 1982) pp. 14, 17, 29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Jasper 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Jasper
    • 1
  1. 1.Hatfield CollegeDurhamUK

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