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R.I.P. Norman Fruman

By Harriet Staff

According to this NY Times article:

Norman Fruman, a scholar who roiled literary waters in the 1970s with a biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge that accused the poet of stealing ideas and disingenuously aggrandizing his own creative history, died on April 19 at his home in Laguna Beach, Calif. He was 88.

The obit continues on about Fruman’s Coleridge book:

The book, while acknowledging the genius that produced poetic masterpieces like “Frost at Midnight,” “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan,” demonstrated that Coleridge’s brilliance as a man of letters — he was also a critic, philosopher and diarist — was sullied by literary kleptomania and a habit of peddling self-promoting untruths about the circumstances under which he created his work.

Coleridge’s borrowing of ideas, especially from German idealistic philosophers like Friedrich Schelling, had long been recognized. It had been interpreted as either the unfortunate carelessness of an opium-addicted genius or proof of a genius for synthesizing others’ ideas in producing original and profound work of his own.

But Professor Fruman presented a far longer list of transgressions than had previously been documented, leading him to theorize that Coleridge (1772-1834) had essentially been a liar and a pathological plagiarist who needn’t have stooped to thievery to achieve greatness but who couldn’t help himself. In Coleridge’s accounts of his verse writing, the poet often claimed, for example, that a poem had been written in a burst of inspiration or in a single sitting, but Professor Fruman found evidence in letters indicating otherwise.

Read it in its entirety after the jump.

Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 by Harriet Staff.