The Mirror Metaphor and Coleridge’s Mysticism Poetics: Metaphysics and the Formation of the Pentad

Author: Tsuchiya, Kiyoshi
This study treats Coleridge’s thinking as an integral whole and follows in detail the chronological development of Coleridge’s quest. It begins with placing modern subjectivity within the history of the mirror metaphor, that here represents mysticism in the West from antiquity to modernity, then analyses Coleridge’s encounter with the metaphor and traces his lifelong engagement with it that culminates in the formation of the Pentad. It discusses his early poems and poetics, his reading and rewriting of Kant, his own transcendentalism seen in Biographia Literaria and Aids to Reflection. It them briefly compares Coleridge’s mirror metaphor with two contemporary mirror metaphors by Lacan and Rorty.


“Tsuchiya has produced a meticulous analysis of Coleridge’s reflections on transcendence. These have at least two great strengths. The first is that his study is based on a knowledge in depth of the relevant primary and secondary sources. The second, and much more significant, is that his appraisal is made from and Japanese and Buddhist perspective. This gives his intercultural assessment of Coleridge within the European Romantic tradition a distinctive sharpness which makes a fresh and a timely contribution to Coleridge studies.” – George M. Newlands

“The book is the result of a hugely conscientious and detailed knowledge of the texts of Coleridge’s prose and poetic writings, and in particular his notebooks. . . . one of the most sympathetic readings of Coleridge I have yet come across and a book which I am sure will not always be popular with the common run of Romantic Scholars yet will continue to fascinate and encourage those who wish to pursue the mysterious mind of one of our most important poets.” – David Jasper

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings)
1. Introduction
2. Mirror metaphor
3. Hymn and Absence
4. Ancient Mariner and the Departure from Nature
5. Dejection Ode and the Theft of Nature
6. Symbol and Human Trinity
7. Hypopœesis and Confessio Fidei
8. Transcendentalism in Biographia
9. Pentad and Aids to Reflection
10. Conclusion
Bibliography; Index