Coleridge's Albatross

A hypertext essay on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

David S. Miall, University of Alberta

During the voyage to Malta in 1804, Coleridge seems to have recognized in himself the figure of the Ancient Mariner. While this suggests that the Coleridge who wrote the poem in 1797-98 was uncannily endowed with foresight, the poem appears to have strong roots in Coleridge's biography. It is because the writing of the poem echoes Coleridge's past that it seems to speak so presciently of his future.

In this hypertext essay on the poem, I rework an earlier essay published in 1984 in order to foreground the biographical context of the poem, and to permit specific threads of the argument to be explored independently. Links from my own text enable the reader to pursue both the poem itself, and the referential contexts on which my argument often depends. Different types of link allow the reader some choice over which perspective to take on the poem: these begin at the starting points available below.

Readers will notice that the linear form of the original essay is largely retained in this version, thus the essay is far from ideal as a view of how hypertext can be used. However, when I have time I will be adding additional links between current nodes, and links to additional nodes that will enrich or extend the context of the discussion. When new material is added , I will signal it at the top of this opening screen.

Graphic: detail from an illustration by J. Noel Paton, Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (London: Art-Union of London, 1863). Enlarged view: 67K.

Starting points

Coleridge timeline | Key passages in The Mariner | Argument threads | Authors cited

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Documents last updated Monday, September 9, 1996