The ambivalent curiosity of the young poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) towards Plato - 'but I love Plato - his dear gorgeous nonsense!' - soon developed into a philosophical project, and the mature Coleridge proclaimed himself a reviver of Plato's unwritten or esoteric 'systems'. James Vigus's study traces Coleridge's discovery of a Plato marginalised in the universities, and examines his use of German sources on the 'divine philosopher', and his Platonic interpretation of Kant's epistemology. It compares Coleridge's figurations of poetic inspiration with models in the Platonic dialogues, and investigates whether Coleridge's esoteric 'system' of philosophy ultimately fulfilled the Republic’s notorious banishment of poetry.
James Vigus is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Philosophy, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena (Germany). His other publications include Coleridge's Afterlives, ed. by James Vigus and Jane Wright (Palgrave, 2008); he is Reviews Editor of the Coleridge Bulletin.
‘James Vigus's Platonic Coleridge gives a rigorous, scholarly, and fiercely lucid account of the complex, sometimes contradictory, dealings with Plato and the Platonic tradition that quicken Coleridge’s thought. This in itself would be enough to recommend it, but it has still more to oﬀer. It explores more searchingly than any other book I know the issue that Vigus places at the centre of Coleridge’s thought, the question of the proper relationship between poetry and philosophy... This is at once an unusually sharply focused and an unusually suggestive book. It is a fine achievement.’ — Richard Cronin, Modern Language Review 105.1, January 2010, 220-22 (full text online)
‘Vigus's study makes an outstanding contribution. [...] This philosophy of process, rather than product, characterizes the more profitable side of Plato; it is the reward of getting to know him that Vigus makes available in what for me are the best parts of this enlightening study.’ — John Beer, The Coleridge Bulletin n.s. 34, Winter 2009
‘[A] prominent feature is the depth of scholarship. [...] Within the context of recent Coleridge scholarship as well as in the broader conversation about boundaries among disciplines, Platonic Coleridge is important. It explores a rare place, a place where the pathways of philosophy and poetry come together and, for a while, run parallel.’ — William C. Horrell, The Wordsworth Circle 40.4, Autumn 2009
‘Part of Legenda's excellent Studies in Comparative Literature series... Coleridge's response to his readings is clearly described and analysed in this well-written monograph, which should be of interest to all students of Coleridge and the reception of Platonic ideas in English literature.’ — William Baker, The Year's Work in English Studies 2011, 1086-87
‘Vigus’s central point within the volume is that Plato provided a central constructive influence upon Coleridge which has been underestimated by previous critics. ... [A]n exceedingly well crafted piece of philosophical interpretation... a wonderfully strong book which anyone interested in Coleridge’s philosophical writings will find fascinating.’ — Luke Wright, The Year's Work in English Studies 2010
‘This intelligent, enjoyable book is original and stimulating, and ought to help and challenge those scholars who see the poetic and the philosophical as mutually supportive aspects of Coleridge’s thought.’ — David Stewart, The Year's Work in English Studies 2010