DOI: 10.18413/2313-8912-2020-6-2-0-9

S.T. Coleridge as an intermediary between Great Britain and Germany: a theory of symbol

  The article discusses the role of S.T. Coleridge as an intermediary between German and British cultures, whose role was not limited to passive transfer of ideas from one cultural context to another, but involved creative elaboration and independent interpretation of these ideas. The author focusses on his linguo-semiotic ideas, in particular, on his concept of symbol, which the poet borrowed from German philosophers. Following them, Coleridge understood symbol as an internally contradictory sign which cannot be explicitly interpreted, as its interpretation goes beyond rationality and relies heavily on intuition. To illustrate Coleridge’s contacts with German philosophers the concept of the tautegorical nature of symbol is analysed. It brings symbol closer not to metaphor, which symbol is traditionally related to in poetics, but to synecdoche. In the poet’s view, symbol remains part of the whole which it represents (e.g. a sail symbolizing a whole ship remains still a sail). Coleridge’s contacts with German philosophers proved to be two-directional: thus, inspired by A. Schlegel’s works, Coleridge coined the term ‘tautegorical’, which was later used by F. Schelling. As shown in the article, the concept of symbol made the foundation of Coleridge’s semiotic, aesthetic and hermeneutic ideas. As perception of an internally contradictory sign demands intensive mental effort, Coleridge emphasized the active nature of language and sometimes controversial results of the interpretation of a text by the addressee. Claiming that a word can designate not only an object, but also the mood and the intention of the author, Coleridge brought to light the contextually varying nature of semantics. Basing on this, he developed a concept of ‘creative reading’ in the process of which the reader acts as an active co-participant of the communication.

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