May 26 1816: Christabel Reviewed

V0027589 May Prinsep. Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron.

“Mr. Coleridge’s Poem is at present the standing enigma which puzzles the curiosity of literary circles. What is it all about? What is the idea? Is Lady Geraldine a sorceress? or a vampire? or a man? or what is she, or he, or it? These are questions which we have alternately heard and put; but to which not even those who have thought the subject worth more pains than ourselves, have been so fortunate as to hit upon a satisfactory answer. One friend suggests that the whole is a mere hoax — a silly problem without a solution, — and reminds us that ‘true no-meaning puzzles more than wit.’ Another thinks it is the result of a wager on the digestive capabilities of the public taste: — and a third declares, that the poem has just the same effect on his temper as if a man were to salute him in the street with a box on the ear, and walk away. Certain it is, that the verses are wrought up in a maze of impenetrable mystery, which to some persons appears the legitimate and successful means of giving it a sort of preternatural horror, — but which is decried by others as nothing more or less than the evasive and unsatisfactory resource of conceited negligence and perverseness”

— The Champion, reviews Coleridge’s Christabel, May 26 1816.

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