The Genie and the Albatross: Coleridge and the Arabian Nights
May 31, 1830
Mrs Barbauld once told me that she admired the Ancient Mariner very much, but that there were two faults in it, — it was improbable, and had no moral. As for the probability, I owned that that might admit some question; but as to the want of a moral, I told her that in my own judgment the poem had too much; and the only, or chief fault, if I might say so, was the obtrusion of the moral sentiment so openly on the reader as a principle or cause of action in a work of such pure imagination. It ought to have had no more moral than the Arabian Nights’ tale of the merchant’s sitting down to eat dates by the side of a well, and throwing the shells aside, and lo! a genie starts up, and says he must kill the aforesaid merchant, because one of the date shells had, it seems, put out the eye of the genie’s son.2
KeywordsEnglish Literature Fairy Tale Moral Sentiment Greek Tragedy Table Talk
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