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'Old Men - and Women - May be Permitted to Speak Long': Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Voice of Experience




This article explores the complications involved in speaking from a position of seniority and experience in the life and work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It goes beyond the familiar caricatures of Coleridge as a garrulous old man, perpetuated by the likes of J. B. Priestley and Max Beerbohm, to address his self-consciousness in securing a listener, drawing comparisons and contrasts with the ‘Old Maid’ Miss Bates in Jane Austen's Emma. The article then pursues the theme of listening to elderly voices in verse from different periods of Coleridge's career including ‘The Old Man of the Alps’, ‘Youth and Age’ and ‘An Old Man's Sigh’. It argues that the biological affects of ageing on the voice often need to be understood as adjustments or compensatory behaviours arising from specific social situations.

Acceptance Date Jan 15, 2018
Publication Date Oct 1, 2019
Journal Romanticism
Print ISSN 1354-991X
Publisher Edinburgh University Press
Pages 249-260
Keywords Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ageing, voice, garrulousness, Old Maid
Publisher URL