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Title: Abstruse research and visioned wanderings : Neoplatonism and Hinduism in the poetry of Coleridge and Shelley
Author: Harries, Natalie Tal
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 7802
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2018
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The metaphysical poetry of the English Romantics is characterised by an interest in esoteric wisdom, and the exploration of Hinduism and Neoplatonism during the period formed a significant part of this 'abstruse research'. This thesis will investigate the role of two central strands of 'Romantic esotericism', Neoplatonism and Hinduism, in the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and examine how it is manifested in their poetry, philosophy and expression of visionary experience and spiritual transcendence. This study considers the way in which Coleridge and Shelley drew upon the ideas, symbols, mythology, theology and philosophy contained in the earliest English translations of Hindu sacred texts and Thomas Taylor's Neoplatonic translations, during their poetic explorations of transcendental experience. It will demonstrate how this material was a significant source of inspiration to both Coleridge and Shelley when formulating their own poetic vocabulary capable of expressing the ineffable divine. The first chapter deals with the early influence of Hinduism and Neoplatonism on Coleridge's poetic output from 1793-1802, and the second chapter considers his shifting response from this point onwards, which coincides with his poetic development and the apparent loss of his former visionary insight. His expression of visionary experience in his early work is evidently influenced by both Hindu and Neoplatonic texts and, despite his later criticism, Coleridge continues to make use of their 'symbolic potential' before dismissing them entirely in his later years. Shelley shares Coleridge's preoccupation with the esoteric unknown and the final chapter examines the influence of Hinduism and Taylor's Neoplatonic translations, as well as the symbolic legacy of Coleridge, on Shelley's poetical explorations of visionary pursuit and divine insight. Like Coleridge, Shelley synthesises Neoplatonic and Hindu influences to create his own divine symbolism, and both poets were greatly inspired by their engagement with these ancient traditions.
Supervisor: Duff, David ; Jones, Catherine Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Funding for Women Graduates
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Neoplatonism in literature ; Hinduism in literature