Coleridge’s Notebooks

“Coleridge’s notebooks, of which seventy-two have survived, contain a huge assortment of memoranda set down by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge from 1794 until shortly before his death in 1834.[1] Coleridge’s biographer Richard Holmes summarized the range of material covered as “travels, reading, dreams, nature studies, self-confession and self-analysis, philosophical theories, friendships, sexual fantasies, lecture notes, observations of his children, literary schemes, brewing recipes, opium addiction, horrors, puns, prayers.” [Wikipedia]

I didn’t know that. I studied his poems in college but I don’t remember his notebooks being mentioned. Of course, it’s been a long time.

Guess how many I see see around me right now. Ready? 25. Mostly finished or well used, some in progress. They’re 5 x 8 inch notebooks and pocket size, and a couple are larger. And that’s just 2017-2018. There’s a shelf in the closet with more, though from 1995 to 2017, I mostly used computers to take notes and write drafts. Now, everything starts with “Draft Zero,” something written by hand, before the first draft, if there ever is a first draft.

I wish I was as broad and comprehensive as Coleridge but gimme a break: that dude as world class, and I’m small town. Still, I cover events, reading, dreams, worries and fears, self-confession, self-analysis, philosophical compost, friendships, YouTube and podcast notes, literary hope, boredom, horror, glory and occasionally a prayer.

What about you? Do you journal, keep notebooks?

I kept a notebook, a surreptitious journal in which I jotted down phrases, technical data, miscellaneous information, names, dates, places, telephone numbers, thoughts, and a collection of other data I thought was necessary or might prove helpful.
– Frank Abagnale
Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.
– Joan Didion



1 thought on “Coleridge’s Notebooks

  1. You must be the more cosmopolitan, with access to all you have.
    A technical writer once loudly read “The Congo” at work. I thought that was Coleridge until right now.
    I like him even more,.

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